CLINTON – Through five innings, the Clinton High School baseball team appeared to be on track to starting the final week of the regular season on a sour note.
But the River Kings refused to roll over.
A four-run sixth inning pushed Clinton into the lead, Hunter Brashaw tossed five quality innings and the River Kings battled back to defeat Muscatine 6-5 in the Mississippi Athletic Conference contest at Ashford University Field in Clinton.
Clinton coach Kevin Cunningham said he noticed a positive environment in the home dugout leading up to the game-winning rally.
"The kids felt like we could come back and win this," Cunningham said. "I don't think they felt like we were out of it."
Trailing 5-2 with two outs in the sixth, Clinton's Max Holy jumpstarted the decisive inning with a walk before three consecutive singles from Joe Simpson, Jared Simpson and Dante Brunson pressured the Muskies into a pair of passed balls, which allowed both Simpson and Brunson to score to open a 6-5 River King lead.
"We had some timely hits and had some guys that were on base hustling," Cunningham said. "They [Muscatine] made some mistakes but the key is we put the ball in play."
Brashaw started on the mound for Clinton, allowing five runs in five innings (two earned) before reliever Aiden Lubs pitched two spotless innings to secure the River Kings' fifth win in their last seven games.
Cunningham was impressed with both of his right-handers.
"Aiden came through for us again," Cunningham said. "I thought Hunter competed for us and fought through some tough plays... we didn't make enough plays behind him."
After a scoreless two innings to open the game, both teams scored in the third.
Muscatine benefitted on an error from Clinton's Sean Hammond, as Bryce Owen came all the way around from first base to score on Hammond's errant throw across the diamond.
Drew Logel then deposited a triple into the right-center field gap and Creighton Carlson added a single to give the Muskies a 3-0 advantage.
Holy also scored in the third inning, as Brennen Lemke's sac fly brought the River Kings within two runs.
Lemke, one of the team's three captains, was proud of the way the River Kings battled back.
"I am happy with the way we battled, it goes to show that we don't stop for seven innings and that we are going to be there all seven ready to work," Lemke said.
Brunson led Clinton with two hits.
Clinton will close out the regular season Wednesday night with a trip to Davenport West before opening the postseason against top-seeded North Scott Friday night in Eldridge.