ELDRIDGE — The Clinton River Kings baseball team is one win away from advancing to the state tournament.

Clinton did it all Monday night in an 11-1 five-inning romp over the North Scott Lancers in a substate semifinal on North Scott’s field.

The River Kings (23-10), who were ranked much of the season before recently dropping out of the poll, will host the Pleasant Valley Spartans at Alliant Energy Field Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The winner goes to state.

Clinton edged Pleasant Valley by identical 4-3 scores in the teams’ Mississippi Athletic Conference-opening doubleheader back on May 31 in Clinton. The River Kings overcame 3-0 deficits in both games.

Pleasant Valley beat Dubuque Senior 4-2 in its postseason opener then had a second-round bye.

Clinton will likely face Spartans ace Logan Frame. The River Kings handed Frame a loss in the first game of the conference doubleheader, collecting six hits against him.

River Kings coach Trent Snowden said he was unsure what his team’s pitching situation would be against Pleasant Valley.

Clinton banged out 11 hits, got two-hit pitching from Darryl Sexton and made some terrific defensive plays Monday. The River Kings had swept North Scott 13-4 and 20-6 in their conference doubleheader June 14 in Eldridge.

Clinton, which won the coin flip to be considered the home team, got jump-started by one of their outstanding defensive plays.

With one out and North Scott leadoff hitter Clay Baker on third center fielder Ryan Hovey (3-for-3) caught a fly ball and fired to the plate as Baker tried to score. The throw was right on target and catcher Shawn Winoski applied to tag to complete the inning-ending double play.

Clinton then went to work offensively, batting around and scoring three runs on five hits in the bottom of the first inning.

With one out Jacob Mangler (3-for-4, two doubles, three RBIs) doubled down the left-field line. Ryan Clausen followed with a looping infield hit between the pitcher’s mound and the second baseman.

Hovey singled to left, plating Mangler. Jordan Camp reached on an infield hit to second and the ball was thrown away at first base, allowing Clausen to score and Camp and Hovey to move to second and third.

Drew Matzen was hit by a pitch to load the bases. David Lakin (2-for-3, three RBIs) drove in the third run of the inning with an infield hit in the hole between shortstop and third base.

The River Kings had a chance for more but left the bases loaded.

Clinton had another sparkling defensive play to start the top of the second inning as right fielder Curtis Howard made a spectacular diving catch on a line drive in the right-center field gap.

“I felt good,” said Sexton who struck out six. “My curveball was working good and my fastball was pretty good. Getting an early lead was huge. It’s a lot easier to pitch with a lead. My curveball started working a lot better in the later innings. We had some huge defensive plays. I have a good defense backing me up.”

“It was good to get on top early,” Mangler said. “We were all hitting and we got a good pitching performance from Darryl. We played tonight like we were playing at the beginning of the season. We were on a roll then. We have a lot of momentum going.”

North Scott (17-20) scored its lone run in the fourth, making it 3-1 when Matt Poirier belted a leadoff double to deep center field and scored on a two-out error.

The Kings tallied once in the bottom of the fourth to go up 4-1 as Scott DeAngelis drew a two-out walk before Mangler cracked an RBI double to deep left.

Clinton ended the game by the 10-run rule in the fifth, sending 11 batters to the plate. Hovey led off with an infield hit on a line drive that bounced out of the glove of Lancer second baseman Kevin Belk.

Camp drew a walk before Matzen sacrificed the runners to second and third. Lakin then laced a two-run double to left-center.

Winoski reached when his pop fly was dropped and the runners moved to second and third on a balk. Sexton drew a walk to load the bases.

DeAngelis then rapped a two-run double to right and Mangler followed with a two-run single to center. Clausen was intentionally walked before Hovey walked to load the bases. Camp drew another walk to force in the game-ending run.

“Darryl threw well,” Snowden said. “We had some great defensive plays. In the three games we’ve played against these guys we got out to two 4-0 leads the first time and a 3-0 lead tonight. Everything clicked pretty well.”

Score by Innings

North Scott 000 10 — 1 2 2

Clinton 300 17 — 11 11 2

Matt Petersen, Boyd Higgins (5) and Clay Baker. Darryl Sexton and Shawn Winoski.

Two or more hits—Clinton, Jacob Mangler 3, Ryan Hovey 3, David Lakin. 2B—NS, Matt Poirier; Clinton, Mangler 2, Lakin, DeAngelis. RBI—Clinton, DeAngelis 2, Mangler 3, Hovey, Jordan Camp, Lakin 3.

Records—North Scott 17-20, Clinton 23-10. Next—Pleasant Valley vs. Clinton at Alliant Energy Field (Class 4A substate championship), 7 p.m. Wednesday.

This Week's Circulars