The Dark Horse Nine used stellar pitching and crafty base running to outlast the Pender Patriots on Thursday night for a 3-1 win in a Four County Conference Baseball game. Alex Purcell took the hill for Clinton and allowed the visitors only six hits with no walks in seven complete innings, pitching a gem for the home team.
With no score in the bottom of the third Kris Royal led off getting aboard on a throwing error, stole second to get into scoring position and gave Clinton the lead when Wade Sumner executed a beautiful hit and run to drive the early departing Royal home. Jake Taylor picked up the second RBI of the inning with a line drive into left that plated Wade Sumner from second.
Pender manufactured a run in the top of the fourth when they got a runner aboard and pushed him across on an infield hit with one out. The Dark Horses got out of the inning when they turned a nice 6 to 3 to 5 double play to end the inning and the Patriot threat. The Patriots threatened again in the top of the fifth when they got two runners on base but Grant Naylor made a good catch of a slicing line drive in right field to stymie the Pender rally.
The Dark Horses picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth when Tyler Johnson ripped the first pitch into center field to open the inning. Johnson was able to advance to third base on a sacrifice and a throwing error that put Jonathan Wright on first base with two outs. With runners at the corners and two outs, Clinton’s coach Thornton reached into his bag of tricks and called for an intentional run down play. Wright left first base early putting himself into a rundown, then skillfully occupied the Pender defense allowing Tyler Johnson time to slip home from third before the Patriots could tag Wright for the third out.
The sly base running gave Purcell and the Horses the cushion they needed to finish off the Patirots holding them without a base runner in the final two turns at bat. “We out dueled them the last time we played, 2-1, and Alex brought his “A” game tonight, holding them to one run with no walks,” said Clinton coach Tracy Thornton.
Tyler Johnson was 1 for 3 at the plate with a run scored, Wade Sumner went 1 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored, Jake Taylor, 1 for 3 with an RBI and Kris Royal scored a run. The win improves the Dark Horses record to 9-3.