After opening the season with four straight losses, the Clinton baseball team has turned their fortunes around. The Dark Horses put their seven game winning streak on the line Friday night when they hosted West Bladen in a Four County Conference tilt. Clinton used strong pitching and timely hitting to keep their win streak in tact with a 4-2 win over the Knights.
West Bladen took advantage of Clinton misplays in the top of the first, getting an unearned run to take the early 1-0 lead. The Dark Horses had an answer in their half of the first frame when Jonathan Wright singled and was followed by Blake Davis who was hit by a pitch. Jordan Lilliston hammered an RBI double to bring in Chase Jacobs who was running for Jonathan Wright and knot the score at 1-1 after the first inning.
The bottom half of the lineup got things going for the Horses in the second inning. Trey Warren and Charles Jordan singled to lead off the inning. Zach Parker then picked up a two RBI single, scoring Warren and Jordan, giving the Dark Horses a lead they would not relinquish.
Clinton got an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth when Trey Warren led off with a walk, stole second and took third base on a passed ball. When Charles Jordan drew the walk, Clinton had runners at the corners. Zach Parker picked up his third RBI of the night singling to score Warren for a 4-1 lead .
West Bladen picked up a run in the top of the sixth to narrow the Clinton lead to 4-2 before Clinton pitcher Jonathan Wright struck out the final two batters to end the Knights only real threat of the night. Clinton, unable to add to the their lead in the bottom of the sixth, turned the ball back over the Jonathan Wright and the defense to nail down their eighth straight win.
Wright was up to the challenge, retiring the first two batters before giving up a two out walk and allowing the tying run to get to the plate. The threat was short lived as Wright struck out the final batter, squashing any hopes the Knights had of pulling off the upset.
Jonathan Wright was masterful on the hill for Clinton scattering three hits over seven complete innings. Wright struck out 11 batters giving up 2 runs to get the win. On offense the Dark Horses could only scratch out five hits but they were timely. Zach Paker drove in three runs on two hits and Jordan Lilliston drove in the other run with a first inning double. Charles Jordan, Jonathan Wright and Trey Warren were the other Dark Horses picking up hits, all three hitting singles.
After the game, Clinton head coach Tracey Thornton talked about his team’s timely hitting.
“We hit the ball as well tonight as we have all year,” he said. “We just hit it right at them. We did string together some hits and get some runs and Jonathan did a good job for us on the mound. This is a big win over a 2A conference team. Every win is important but a win over a 2A team is big because we will be fighting them for a playoff spot.”
The win, Clinton’s 8th in a row, improves their record to 8-4 and 4-0 in conference play. The Dark Horses travel to Pender on Tuesday night to face the Patriots in another Four County Conference match-up.
Reach Mike Carter at [email protected]