CLINTON — According to Cole Pennock, it's a nice luxury knowing that Ryan Driscoll has your back.
"I'd trust him with any game," Pennock said. "Any situation; any time."
Pennock, Clinton's starter for Round 1 of Friday's Class 4A Substate game against Western Dubuque, finished with a pretty nice day for himself. He only gave up two hits, a run and three walks on four strikeouts. Through the first five innings, Pennock was shutting out the Bobcats.
But in the bottom of the seventh, after Pennock walked the leadoff batter to put the tying run at the plate, River Kings coach Kevin Cunningham made the call to remove his season-long ace. Driscoll inherited the game with no outs, a runner on and Clinton's season on the line in a 3-1 ball game.
Just like that, a game that took two hours to get started ended in a blur. Driscoll struck out the Bobcats' seventh, eighth and ninth batters swinging, earning the River Kings a date with Dubuque Senior on Monday.
"It's win or go home right now," Driscoll, a senior, said. "This is possibly the last baseball season I'll ever play. I'm not going to let us lose."
The first player to rush Driscoll was Pennock. The senior gave the freshman his first postseason win.
"It feels great. Words can't even describe how I'm feeling right now," Pennock said. "I never even dreamed of this. There's no better feeling."
Fifteen minutes before game time, a sketchy Clinton sky opened up at Eagle Heights Elementary School, flooding the field. Although the storm lasted roughly 10 minutes, it took nearly an hour to dry out the playing surface. Another storm rolled through, and there were some debates about calling the game.