Clinton hosted East Bladen in on Thursday night in the first of two consecutive games with the conference leading Eagles. The teams will meet again on Monday night in Elizabethtown to make up a game rescheduled from earlier this year. The Eagles took the first round with an impressive 6-0 win over Clinton to sure up their position atop the conference standings.
The combatants locked up in a one run pitchers duel with Clinton’s Jonathan Wright and East Bladen’s Coates both pitching masterfully. The Eagles scratched out a run in the top of the third and held the slim margin into the sixth inning.
The Eagles got the lead off man aboard in the top of the fifth then the wheels came off for the Dark Horses. With one out and a runner on first the East Bladen batter lofted a fly ball high over the infield. The Dark Horses lost the ball in the lights and were unable to make the play putting runners at first and third for the Eagles. Clinton opted to walk the next batter to load the bases and set up a force at any base. The Eagles made them pay for this decision when the next batter slammed a base clearing triple into rightfield. The Eagles picked up two more runs before the Dark Horses could record the third out, getting another base runner via a hit batsman. Another error allowed both runs to score and the Eagles had opened up a commanding 6-0 lead.
The Dark Horses were unable to break through in the final two innings as Coates and the Eagles wrapped up the shutout win in dominating fashion. Coates was overpowering on the mound for the Eagles, pitching a one-hitter, giving up four walks and striking out five. Clinton’s coach Tracey Thornton was impressed with Coates’ performance, saying “he (Coates) did a heck of a job. It was amazing how off balance he kept us all night. This was obviously not our best but you have to give them a lot of credit.”
Jonathan Wright pitched a very good game for Clinton going the distance, striking out nine, allowing only five hits. Wright’s performance was tainted by defensive errors, of the six runs allowed only two were earned runs. Thornton commented on Wright’s mound performance adding, “Jonathan pitched well enough for us to win but we just gave him no support at the plate. We also did not help ourselves any in the field, losing the ball in the lights, there is just nothing you can do about it but it really changed the game. We were down 1-0 at that time and they just capitalized on that mistake and put us away.”
Wright got Clinton’s only hit of the night, a fourth inning single, and coach Thornton summed up the night best, saying, “if you can’t score you don’t have much of a chance. We have a tough stretch with Midway on Tuesday and East Bladen two times in a row. We have to get ready to go again against this team on Monday night.”
The loss drops Clinton to 10-6 overall and 8-2 in Four County Conference play. The Dark Horses will travel to Elizabethtown town on Monday night to play the Eagles in a game that was postponed earlier in the season due to the sickness of several East Bladen players.
Reach Mike Carter at [email protected]