Knust's no-hitter propels Rangers past Jeeps



FERDINAND — A quick look at Gavin Knust’s final stat line will tell you all that you need to know — the Forest Park junior hurler was dominant.

Knust threw a complete game shutout while allowing zero hits and only one baserunner in the entire game as Forest Park cruised to a 15-0 victory over county foe Northeast Dubois in Ferdinand on Thursday evening.

Knust had never thrown a no-hitter in his life prior to Thursday evening so it’s safe to say the Ranger pitcher was rather excited.

“I was throwing it harder tonight than I ever have,” Knust said about his fastball. “I really didn’t know what was going to happen — that last batter I was down 3-2 and I was like ‘Ehhh’. But it felt good to get it done.”

The no-hit victory certainly resonated with his teammates, as well.

“I’ve always known Gavin was a good pitcher but this? This was big time,” said Forest Park freshman Drew Howard who finished 2-of-3 with three RBIs. “He’s such a good pitcher for our team.”

Ranger head coach Jarred Howard was also impressed with what he saw from Knust on the mound in the victory.

After taking a loss in his first start on the mound this season, Knust has bounced back with two straight victories to improve to 2-1 on the year.

“Each time he’s thrown, he’s gotten better,” Jarred said. “Early he was (throwing) up in the zone but now he’s down in the zone. He also had a lot of two-out walks earlier and tonight he only had one — he threw strikes and was effective, he did a great job.”

Forest Park (3-4) also did a solid job of remaining patient at the plate. In the bottom of the first inning, the Rangers scored nine total runs with four of them coming on RBI walks with the bases loaded and another run coming on a wild pitch.

Drew Howard also brought in two runs with a single to make it 7-0 while Elliott Rothgerber closed the inning with a two-RBI double to make it 9-0.

“We were more patient tonight than we have been,” Jarred said. “We’ve really gotten better with every game. The big thing that our guys need to do is just play —we need game experience because with every game we’ve gotten more patient.”

Northeast Dubois head coach Luke Woolems said the Rangers momentum hampered the Jeeps (0-6) from the get-go.

“Baseball is a momentum sport and we lost it in a big way there,” said Woolems. “We really never got it back after that.”

It was a short day on the mound for Northeast Dubois starting pitcher Logan Mehringer as he put seven batters on in the first inning via a walk or hit by pitch while also giving up a hit. However, the pitcher that came in relief for Mehringer did a solid job.

Freshman Kendrick Thombleson pitched 2.2 innings in relief and while he did give up five hits and three earned runs, he also struck out a pair of Ranger batters and forced Forest Park to ground into a double play.

“He’s got a nice mix of pitches, he can’t throw too hard yet but I think he will. He really is able to let his defense work behind him,” Woolems said. “He works quickly and the defense stays engaged. We really like what he brings to the table, there’s definitely a big upside.”

While nothing much happened in the second and the third innings, Forest Park put up a six-spot in the bottom of the fourth to put the 10-run rule in effect.

Howard, Rothgerber and Hunter Helming all drove in runs via bases loaded walks by Jeep pitcher Eli Schott while Knust hit a double which three runs came home to score via a Northeast Dubois error to make it 15-0.

Knust set the final three Northeast Dubois batters down in order via the strikeout and that was it for the game.

While Northeast Dubois fell to 0-6 on the season, Woolems believes the Jeeps will remain confident in themselves moving forward no matter what happens.

“I think we’re smart enough to know that we’re young and the juniors knew that this was probably going to be a two-year project,” Woolems said. “I give a lot of credit to the juniors, I think a lot of the positivity comes from them.”

Forest Park will have another tough outing tonight as they’ll host conference foe and county rival Southridge.

The biggest key for a Forest Park win? Make plays.

“We’ve put the bat on the ball, our quality at-bats are fantastic and we’ve thrown strikes but we just haven’t made enough plays to be competitive at times,” Jarred said.

Knust added: “We’ll have the home crown behind us and we’ll have our senior leader (Elliott Rothgerber) out on the mound for us — he’ll be good like he always is.”

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