There was so much that went wrong Thursday night for Clinton High School’s baseball team it was hard to tell what cost it most.
Davenport Central took advantage of nearly everything the River Kings did wrong, leading to a doubleheader sweep in the Mississippi Athletic Conference openers for both teams.
The Blue Devils won the first game 6-5 in eight innings, then came back for a 9-3 victory in the nightcap. They were the first official games at Clinton’s new field located at Eagle Heights Elementary School.
Central, the preseason favorite in the MAC and a team that has reached state three of the past four seasons, needed only 11 hits in the two games to beat the Kings.
Clinton committed seven errors in the two games, six in the second game and a very costly one in the eighth inning of the opener. River Kings pitchers walked 14 batters in the two games, and Clinton hitters struck out 23 times, including 14 in the first games.
“We made a lot of mistakes and there were a lot of little baseball plays we’re not getting right right now,” Clinton senior Jake Mangler said. “We have to get in and correct some of that stuff.
“The wins will come. We’re a good enough team and we have enough talent that we’ll be able to bounce back after this. We have to get the mental part down and make those plays.”
To be fair, the first game was well played by both teams. Clinton rallied from 3-0 and 5-3 deficits to force extra innings.
Central’s Tony Bakeris reached on an error to lead off the eighth and came around to score on an RBI fielder’s choice by Cameron Cartee for the 6-5 lead.
It was the only error of the game, but Mangler did issue seven walks and hit a batter in his 71⁄3 innings. He walked the first two hitters of the seventh, both coming around to score on a one-out single by Jacob Lafrenz.
That hit was the first hit allowed by Mangler since the second inning. The right-hander battled throughout, even retiring nine consecutive hitters in the middle of the game.
“I thought he pitched tough and hung in there as long as he could,” Clinton coach Trent Snowden said. “They just outplayed us in the eighth.”
Trailing 5-3 going into the bottom of the seventh and facing Central reliever Tony Bakeris, Clinton fought back again. Leadoff hitter Justin Clark walked and moved to third on a one-out single by Mangler.
Jared Voss, who had a pair of hits in each game, followed with a single to bring Clinton within 5-4. That’s when things got interesting.
Brendon Roggendorf struck out on a ball in the dirt on what would have been the final out. Central catcher Trevor Kenyon picked up the ball and dived at Roggendorf, missing the tag. He also wasn’t able to get up and make the throw to first.
With the bases loaded, Adam Young followed with a walk that tied the game. However, Matt Morrow, who was 2-for-3 to that point, flew out to end the rally.
“As the game progressed, we got some runners in scoring position, but we were never able to take the lead,” Snowden said. “I thought we had some chances to do that.”
Any momentum gained on the comeback was quickly gone with the error that started the eighth.
That, unfortunately for Clinton (3-2, 0-2) carried over to the second game.
Central (6-1, 2-0) scored four runs in the second inning of the second game, sending 10 batters to the plate. The Blue Devils had only one hit in the inning but took advantage of three errors by the Kings and four walks by Clinton starter Blake Pennock.
The River Kings got back within 4-3 with three runs in the third, doing so without the benefit of a hit. Bakeris walked two batters, hit two more and Kenyon had a throwing error that led to a run.
The Blue Devils, however, got those three runs back in the top of the fourth. Again they did so with only one hit and took advantage of two Clinton errors.
Central’s final two runs came in the seventh on a home run by Josh Behrendt. Those two runs were the only earned runs of the game for Central.
The home run came off Clinton reliever Jake Olalde, who pitched well in relief. He struck out 12 in five innings, allowing only four hits and one walk.
“We were hoping for a split, and really hoped after the first one we could get the second one,” Central coach Jay Ryan said. “Clinton has a really nice team. They’re going to win a lot of games this year.
“They’re not going to make mistakes like that again. They’re too good of a team.”
That was the message Snowden had for his team afterward, reminding his players they swept Central to start last season. The Blue Devils rebounded to go to state.
“Central obviously is a good team, and I think we’re a good team,” Snowden said. “We just got beat by a better team, tonight.”
DAVENPORT CENTRAL 6, CLINTON 5 (8)
Central 030 000 21 — 6 6 0
Clinton 001 200 20 — 5 10 1
Nick Bakaris, Tony Bakeris (7) and Trevor Kenyon. Jake Mangler, Jared Voss (8) and Brendon Roggendorf. WP — T. Bakeris. LP — Mangler. Multiple hits — Clinton (Mangler 2-4, Voss 2-4, Roggendorf 2-4, Matt Morrow 2-4). 2B — Clinton (Roggendorf). RBIs — Central (Jacob Lafrenz 3, N. Bakeris, Cameron Cartee), Clinton (Adam Young 2, Voss, Tyler Morehead, Morrow).
DAVENPORT CENTRAL 9, CLINTON 3
Central 040 300 2 — 9 5 1
Clinton 003 000 0 — 3 5 6
T. Bakeris, Kyle Franklin (3), Blake Moe (6) and Kenyon. Blake Pennock, Jake Olalde (3) and Roggendorf. WP — Franklin. LP — Pennock. Multiple hits — Central (T. Bakeris 2-2), Clinton (Mangler 2-4, Voss 2-4). HR — Central (Josh Behrendt). RBIs — Central (Behrendt 2, N. Bakeris, Bryan Christensen, Cartee), Clinton (Mangler).