Clinton used a late game rally to overtake Union in a hotly contested Four County Conference baseball game on Tuesday night. The Clinton rally extends Union’s win-less streak to seventeen straight, sending the Spartans home smarting from another close loss late in the game.
Clinton took the early lead in the second inning when Blake Davis ripped a one out triple to right field and scored on a sacrifice by Jordan Lilliston, putting the Horses in the drivers seat with a 1-0 lead.
Clinton clung to the one run lead until the top of the fifth when Union took advantage of a hit batsman, a walk and a Dark Horse error. Zack Worley got aboard when he was plunked by a Zack Parker pitch. Pinch runner Chris Murphy came in for Worley, and advanced to third on an infield hit by Nicholas Westbrook. Worley took home on an error to knot the score at 1-1 with one out. Jonah Hudson sacrificed Westbook to second and after Warren Gay drew a walk the Spartans had first and second with two away. Ty Travers drove a shot up the middle that Clinton shortstop Jordan Lilliston got to but was unable to handle cleanly allowing Westbrook to score from second to give Union a 2-1 lead.
The Spartans looked poised to get their first win of the season when they sat the Horses down in order in the bottom of the fifth. Clinton was just not able to gain any traction offensively as Union’s Matthew Ballance kept the Dark Horse batters off balance at the plate.
The Dark Horses finally got the break they were looking for when Jonathan Wright lifted a fly ball into shallow left field that Union was unable to get a glove on. Zack Parker chased Wright to second base with a looping single over the shortstop after an extended at bat that saw him foul off multiple pitches before putting the ball in play. Senior shortstop Jordan Lilliston came to the plate next and promptly lined a single to left that scored Jonathan Wright to tie the game at 2-2.
With runners at the corners Clinton’s Skyler Cannady hit a grounder down third base line. Union’s Ty Travers was unable to field the ball allowing Logan Spell, who was running for Zack Darden to trot home with the go ahead run, lifting Clinton to the 3-2 lead.
Clinton called on Logan Spell to come in and close the game out for Zack Parker. Spell did not dissapoint, getting a ground ball out and striking out two Spartans to put the game away and send the Dark Horses to a 3-2 win.
Zack Parker was the winning pitcher, going 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on just four hits and struck out four Spartans with a very good pitching performance. Logan Spell picked up the save, pitching one inning, striking out 2 and allowing no hits.
The Dark Horses could only scratch out 5 hits. Blake Davis tripled and scored, Jordan Lilliston had a hit and an RBI. Jonathan Wright got a hit and scored a run, Skyler Cannady and Zack Parker both collected singles and Logan Spell scored the winning run as a pinch runner for Zack Parker.
Union managed four hits with Westbrook getting two hits and scoring a run. Matthew Ballance and Dawson Thornton both had singles and Chris Murphy scored a run as a pinch runner for the pitcher. Matthew Ballance went the distance on the mound for the Spartans, giving up three runs on five hits and striking out three batters.
After the game Clinton head coach Tracey Thornton commented on his team’s play saying “we needed a win. This keeps us in a tie for second place with Wallace Rose Hill and we have a couple of teams right on our heels, so we needed a win. Zack Parker pitched great for us tonight and could have easily had a shutout. We needed the innings he and Spell gave us tonight since we have three games this week, they were big for us.”
The win improves Clinton to 10-7 overall and 8-3 in conference play. Union drops to 0-17 on the year, still looking for their first win of the season. Clinton will travel to West Bladen on Friday night while Union will host Pender on Thursday night.
Reach Mike Carter at [email protected]