By Shannon Heaton
For the Herald
CLINTON — Think you had it tough playing baseball? Try being recent Clinton High School graduate Colin Sullivan, who plays without sight in his left eye as the River Kings’ second baseman.
Given the lifelong handicap with which he’s had to play the game, he wasn’t about to let a little thing like a foul ball off the forehead stand in his way of completing an at-bat during Monday’s doubleheader with North Scott.
“I went black for a second, but by the time (Clinton trainer) Kurt (Flathers) got to me, I was trying to focus and gain consciousness again,” Sullivan said of a foul ball that hit off his bat, striking him full in the face in the fifth inning of the first game with the Lancers. “Then I was fine.”
Though Sullivan was listing a little to port, and needed a three-count from the home-plate umpire before he could step back into the batter’s box, he was all business once he got back in, lacing his second double of the game and later scoring in Clinton’s 12-4 first-game victory.
“I’m seeing the ball better; I think last year I was just timid because I wasn’t getting any at-bats,” said Sullivan, who often played defense only as a junior while the team used a designated hitter in his place on offense. “I think I’ve just matured. Every time I go up to the plate, it gives me more confidence any time I’m hitting for myself in the lineup.”
Sullivan, who was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and had two RBIs, was one of several Clinton players who made key contributions to the first-game victory. To be sure, stars like Jake Mangler (3-for-4, 4 RBIs) and Austin Krick (2-for-2, five times on base in five plate appearances, 3 RBIs), had big nights, but they weren’t alone. Starting pitcher Jake Olalde threw 132 pitches to keep the Lancers at bay, and Justin Clark went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI, with Matt Morrow throwing in a double and run scored.
“Guys like Colin are starting to hit the ball better for us. Morrow just plays anywhere we ask him to and Blake (Pennock) did a nice job in right field,” Clinton coach Trent Snowden said. “Our defense was relatively tight in that game and we looked pretty good at the plate. Jake’s curve ball was still effective late; we asked him (at around 100 pitches) if he was OK, and he said yeah.
“That all kind of changed in the second game. We just didn’t play well in that game.”
Indeed, it seemed as if the teams had traded uniforms in between games, as North Scott came out hitting right from the start and used that increased aggressiveness at the plate, plus some early miscommunications between second-game starter Pennock and catcher Brendon Roggendorf that led to two first-inning runs. The Lancers never quit, scoring in each of the first four innings to take a 10-3 victory.
Three Clinton pitchers were needed to get through the second game, with finisher Morrow throwing three solid innings and allowing just one run. But, by the time he came in, most of the damage was already done. And, at the same time, North Scott pitcher Matt McKinney was solid, allowing just three unearned runs — all in the fifth inning. He gave up just four singles and didn’t walk a batter.
“They hit the ball in the first couple of innings, and that kept the pressure on our defense,” Snowden said.
Jared Voss, who relieved in both games for the LumberKings with largely opposite results, had two hits in the second game, with leadoff hitter Tyler Morehead singling in a pair of runs.
“The first game, we were feeling it and everyone was hitting, and I think we all just relaxed too much,” Sullivan said. “We have to be able to pick ourselves up when we get down like that early. We just have to get it done.”
CLINTON 12, NORTH SCOTT 4
North Scott 001 003 0 — 4 11 2
Clinton 330 033 x — 12 14 1
Robert Copley (1.1 ip, 6 h, 6 r, 6 er, 3 bb, 2 so), Devin Guerrero (3.2 ip, 4 h, 3 r, 3 er, 1 bb, 4 so), Cody Manthe (1 ip, 4 h, 3 r, 3 er, 1 bb, 1 so) and Manthe, Colby Sorensen (6); Jake Olalde (6 ip, 11 h, 4 r, 4 er, 4 bb, 4 so), Jared Voss (1 ip, 0 h, 0 r, 0 bb, 0 so) and Brendon Roggendorf. WP — Olalde. LP — Copley. Multiple hits — North Scott (Aaron Huber 2, Manthe 2, Dyllin Gorsh 3), Clinton (Jared Voss 2, Jake Mangler 3, Austin Krick 2, Justin Clark 2, Colin Sullivan 3). 2B — North Scott (John Kinney), Clinton (Voss, Mangler, Krick, Clark, Matt Morrow, Sullivan 2). RBI — North Scott (Manthe, Gorsh 2, Kinney), Clinton (Voss 2, Mangler 4, Krick 3, Clark, Sullivan 2).
NORTH SCOTT 10, CLINTON 3
North Scott 212 400 1 — 10 12 2
Clinton 000 030 0 — 3 4 2
Matt McKinney (7 ip, 4 h, 3 r, 0 er, 0 bb, 5 so) and Cody Manthe; Blake Pennock (2.2 ip, 4 h, 5 r, 2 er, 3 bb, 4 so), Jared Voss (1.1 ip, 6 h, 4 r, 4 er, 0 bb, 0 so), Matt Morrow (3 ip, 2 h, 1 r, 1 er, 0 bb, 1 so) and Brendon Roggendorf, Brent Clausen (5). WP — McKinney. LP — Pennock. Multiple hits — North Scott (Brock Brade 3, Ben Engler 2, Aaron Huber 2, Devin Guerrero 2), Clinton (Voss 2). 2B — North Scott (Brade, Engler, Dyllin Gorsh, Guerrero 2). RBI — North Scott (Brade 3, Huber 2, Gorsh, Eric Poirier, Guerrero), Clinton (Tyler Morehead 2, Voss).
Records — Clinton (10-8, 6-5 MAC), North Scott (9-10, 4-9). Next — Clinton hosts Muscatine, Thursday, 5 p.m. (2).