Clinton opened their 2016 baseball campaign on Tuesday night, hosting non-conference opponent Triton. For six and a third innings the Dark Horses played very well. Then things turned very bad for the Dark Horses as they gave up 8 runs in the top of the seventh, and fell to the Hawks in a 8-0 shutout.
Jonathan Wright opened on the mound for the Dark Horses and pitched four innings of no hit ball, striking out nine of the thirteen batters he faced. Wright yielded the mound to Bailey Spell in the top of the fifth. Spell pitched two and a third innings, allowing no hits but walked four batters and with an erratic defense behind him gave up four unearned runs in the seventh. Clinton called on Logan Spell to come in and finish up the game but he was roughed up for three hits, one a three run homer, and allowed 4 runs before he was able to retire the Hawks in the final inning.
Triton’s pitchers baffled the Dark Horse batters all night, holding Clinton hit-less until Bailey Spell hammered a one out single to right field in the bottom of the sixth inning. Spell advanced to third on two passed balls but the Dark Horses were unable to plate him as the final two batters struck out to end the only real scoring threat the Dark Horses could muster.
Triton got a lead off walk in the seventh inning then sacrificed the runner to second on a perfectly placed bunt. The Hawks would get the next two batters aboard on a walk and an error, then with the bases loaded the wheels ran off for Clinton. With the infield pulled in, hoping for a ground ball to make a play at the plate, a sharply hit ball handcuffed shortstop Jonathan Wright. Wright corralled the loose ball and threw home, wide of the mark allowing two runs to score.
The Dark Horses changed pitchers, bringing in Logan Spell in relief of Bailey Spell. The Hawks had little respect for the younger Spell as the first batter he faced touched him for a three run homer down the left field line. After a walk and a hit batsman the Hawks took advantage of a misplayed ball in left field to plate two more runs, then picked up the final run of the night on a two out single before the Dark Horses were able to record the final two outs of the inning.
The Dark Horses went down in order in the bottom of the seventh and the first game of the season was in the books. Dark Horse head coach Tracey Thornton lamented his teams errant play after the game, saying “we played great for six and a third innings, holding Triton without a hit. It was 0-0 in the top of the seventh and we had two opportunities to get out of the inning but the errors really hurt us tonight.”
Thornton continued, adding “we are a young team but we have to learn how to take advantage of the opportunities when we have them. We had opportunities to win it at the plate and we had opportunities to get out of the seventh inning and committed some costly errors. We are young but I feel good about the team, we just have to learn from the mistakes and get better.”
Clinton returns to action on Friday night when they host the Hobbton Wildcats in another non-conference tilt.
Reach Mike Carter at [email protected]