Clinton High’s first baseball game at its new field was not a game. Officially, anyway, it will go down as no contest after flashes of lightning persuaded coaches from Clinton and Cedar Rapids Prairie to call off Wednesday’s game before it was an official contest.
“It was kind of a weird night, I guess you could say,” Clinton coach Trent Snowden said.
It started with the wind picking up from the northwest just as the game began. Next came a few light sprinkles, though not enough to dampen the infield dirt. By the fourth inning, the wind had shifted and was coming out of the east. Finally, there were flashes of lightning, although there never was any rain.
The umpires suspended play with one out in the top of the fifth inning at 8:45 p.m., when they first saw lightning in the areas. State rules dictate a half-hour suspension after lightning is seen, and the clock must restart each time lightning is seen.
“The lightning was in that 6- to 12-mile radius,” Snowden said. In other words, too close to ignore.
The teams waited 33 minutes, but with lightning flashes still seen in the sky around the new facility at Eagle Heights Elementary School, the coaches and umpires decided not to resume the action.
“Just being able to play was great, but they have finals coming up and so do we,” Snowden said. “It definitely was not worth staying up till midnight to finish it.”
So even though Prairie was ahead 4-2, the game will go down as no contest. Snowden said there was a chance the teams could decide to finish it at another time, but that was unlikely because of scheduling issues.
Clinton (3-0) managed just one hit in four innings — a run-scoring single by Jake Mangler in the third inning.
“We didn’t hit the ball at all,” he said.
Still, Snowden said he liked his team’s chances over the final three innings if the game would have resumed.
“The bad thing about a game like this was we knew their guy (starting pitcher Drew Balta) wouldn’t last real long,” Snowden said.
Both runs against Balta were unearned.
“Drew Balta pitches backward and did a great job,” Prairie coach Matt Thede said. “If we make plays on defense, they don’t have any runs.”
Leading 4-0, Balta walked Brent Clausen to open the bottom of the third inning. Blake Pennock followed with a slow roller to shortstop, and Bryce Alberts’ hurried throw to second base went into right field, allowing Clausen to advance to third instead of being out at second. Justin Clark struck out, then Tyler Morehead grounded to second baseman Brayton Spaw. The potential double-play ball became just a single out at first, though, when the ball rolled up Spaw’s arms and he couldn’t field it cleanly. Clausen scored on that play, then Mangler singled in Pennock to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Prairie (5-1) struck first with a run in the top of the second on a leadoff double by DJ Utley off Morehead, a sacrifice and a run-scoring groundout by Nate Meyer.
“We played the style of baseball I like to play,” Thede said. “We got guys on the move and got them around.”
The Hawks made it 4-0 in the third on a one-out triple by Jason Velvick, a two-out double by Dustin Spaw and a two-run home run by Anthony Gagliardi.
Despite the weather-shortened game, the new field got high marks from both sides.
“I was hoping we might be able to play at (Alliant Energy Field), so I could show my players where I played, but this facility is fantastic,” said Thede, whose three-year minor-league career in the Montreal organization included playing part of the 2002 season for the Clinton LumberKings, before that stadium was renovated.
“The field is fantastic,” Snowden said.
Although it appeared players might have had some trouble seeing the ball after it was hit, Snowden said he didn’t think that would be a problem. Neither did Mangler.
“It was more the sky,” he said of the night that had both dark clouds and semi-clear patches. “In practice it’s been no problem.”
The River Kings don’t have to wait long to try again for a complete game on the new field. They’re scheduled to play Davenport Central at 5 p.m. today in a Mississippi Athletic Conference doubleheader.
CEDAR RAPIDS PRAIRIE 4, CLINTON 2
(Unofficial game; called in fifth inning)
Prairie 013 0 — 4 5 1
Clinton 002 0 — 2 1 0
Drew Balta and Nate Meyer, Tyler Morehead and Brendon Roggendorf. 2B — Prairie (DJ Utley, Dustin Spaw). 3B — Prairie (Jason Velvick). HR — Prairie (Anthony Gagliardi). RBIs — Prairie (Meyer, Spaw, Gagliardi 2); Clinton (Morehead, Jake Mangler).
Sophomores win slugfest
In the preliminary contest, Clinton beat Prairie 20-12 in wild game of offense.
The River Kings took a 5-3 lead in the second inning when Cody Collender hit a grand slam and Adam Ebensberger followed him with a solo home run. But, Clinton still needed a big third inning to take the lead for good.
After the Hawks rallied to go ahead 9-5 in the top of third inning, Clinton used seven hits and four walks to score 11 runs in the bottom half.
Collender finished 2-for-4 with three runs and six RBIs, while Dakota Atkinson went 3-for-5 and had four RBIs. Travis Morehead was the winning pitcher, allowing two earned runs in three innings.