TROY MILLS — Austin Krob stood in the bullpen, preparing for his biggest start this season.
The Lisbon senior went through his normal routine, including a healthy dose of off-speed pitches that he uses to complement a fastball that runs into the upper 80s.
He felt confident but didn’t expect the dominant performance that followed.
Krob tossed a two-hit shutout and scored the lone run in the opener, helping Class 1A third-ranked Lisbon to a doubleheader sweep of No. 2 North Linn Monday night at North Linn. The Lions (15-0) posted 1-0 and 4-3 victories, claiming the nightcap in nine innings.
Krob struck out 15 batters and out-dueled his starting counterpart Jake Hilmer, who suffered his first loss in three years, in a game that lasted just 73 minutes. The other six outs were ground balls, including three to first baseman Ty Williams.
“If I get my stuff working, I can be a pretty good pitcher,” said Krob, who improved to 5-0 this season. “We can’t do anything without the team’s work out there though.”
“The curveball was working like crazy. That thing was snapping on a dime. Our catcher (Bryce Werderman) was good at spotting it up, too.”
The 6-foot-3 left-hander stifled North Linn (16-2) with a strong fastball and an impressive curveball. He struck out the side in three innings, including the fifth and the seventh. He didn’t allow a single batted ball out of the infield against the Lynx, who average more than nine runs a game.
“He had control of three pitches today (Monday),” Lisbon Coach Travis Bennett said. “They were guessing up there and when you guess on a guy that throws that hard he is able to get a fastball by you. He had all of his stuff working.
“If he has three pitches working and his head on straight, Krob is unstoppable.”
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He seemed to get stronger as the game progressed. Krob retired eight straight batters in the middle innings and 13 of the last 14. Bennett said he paced the dugout and didn’t want to disrupt his ace. Krob let instinct take control.
“Not much was going through my mind,” Krob said. “A lot of energy was going through my body. I was ready to roll. Everything was working.
Krob led the Lions at the plate, belting a pair of doubles in the opener. Krob accounted for the lone run, doubling with one out in the fourth. Krob advanced to third on a passed ball and then scampered home when a late throw from the catcher sailed into left field.
The only Lynx batter to reach base was Hilmer. He reached on an error to lead off the first and managed infield singles in the third and sixth. Hilmer was stranded in scoring position, getting left as the tying run in the bottom of the sixth.
Hilmer threw well enough to win most nights, allowing just three hits, striking out five and walking only one. He had won his previous 37 decisions, dating back to a loss against Don Bosco on June 16, 2015, which was before he even stepped foot in high school as a student.
“Jake Hilmer had a really good night,” Krob said. “He got on base every time. It was a great performance by him.”
In the second game, Brett Givens provided the Lions with another gem. He threw a complete-game four-hitter, striking out six in the victory.
“I felt good,” said Givens, who is 4-0. “I’m a pitcher that lets them hit it. I trust my defense the whole time.”
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Like Krob, Givens contributed at the plate as well. He ripped an RBI triple to right field, scoring Jake Jennett with the winning run in the top of the eighth. He also had a single and scored the Lions' first run in a three-run fourth.
“I just tried to square it up,” Givens said of the triple. “I saw the right fielder was playing pretty shallow so I just tried to do my job.”
North Linn scored first in the nightcap. Ryan Miller’s RBI single drove in Austin Hilmer and Brad Pflughaupt scored on Sean Boardman’s groundout in the three-run third.
Lisbon avenged a sweep by North Linn a year ago. This was a game the Lions had in the back of their minds and anxiously awaited. They were ready for the challenge.
“We knew it would be a struggle,” Bennett said. “We knew we had to be tough, play tough defense and pitch right back with them.
“Krob and Givens were unbelievable competitors.”
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