DES MOINES — The Clinton River Kings were one out away from a 4-2 win and a berth in the state baseball semifinals at Principal Park Wednesday afternoon.

Instead, the Cedar Rapids Kennedy Cougars took advantage of a two-out error in the top of the seventh inning, scoring two runs to pull even and send the game to extra innings, then scored the winning run on a two-out, bases-loaded balk in the top of the ninth for a 5-4 victory.

“It’s really tough to come within one out of advancing. It’s tough to swallow,” Clinton senior David Lakin said. “We had the confidence we needed. You have to give them credit. They came up with the big hit when they needed it. We just didn’t get it done.”

“It felt like we had it the whole game,” fellow River King senior Curtis Howard said. “We just made some mental mistakes in the end that hurt us. It felt like we had it in the bag.”

Leading 4-2 with two outs in the top of the seventh, Clinton (24-11) saw its lead suddenly slip away. A ground ball to second baseman Scott DeAngelis looked like it would end the game, but DeAngelis was unable to make the play and Kennedy’s Seth Cox scored from second on the play.

The Cougars’ Teddy Shonka then laced a double to center field and pinch runner Tyler Manning scored all the way from first base to tie the score.

In the top of the ninth Kennedy’s Eric Schultz cracked a lead-off double to center. With two outs the River Kings intentionally walked Shonka, then unintentionally walked Austin Christensen to load the bases.

That set the stage for an unfortunate finish as Clinton’s Ryan Hovey was called for a balk as he appeared to start his motion from the wind-up before stepping back and off the pitching rubber, allowing the go-ahead run to score.

The final score was the only time the River Kings trailed.

“Going into the seventh I don’t think I could have felt any more confident,” Hovey, a senior, said. “I don’t know if they played a better game than we did, but they took advantage of our mistakes. And, it seemed like we couldn’t capitalize on our opportunities.

“We know better than anybody that you’re not out of it until you get the last out. It’s really tough because I know this is the last time I’ll ever step on a baseball diamond.”

“With two outs in the seventh and Ryan on the mound I felt pretty comfortable,” River Kings coach Trent Snowden said. “But, they came through with some giant hits and we had some misfortune. It was very similar to what we did the other day against Pleasant Valley (in Clinton’s dramatic come-from-behind substate championship win).”

Clinton grabbed a quick lead, scoring its first run in the bottom of the first inning. DeAngelis, who was 3-for-4 with two runs scored, led off with a single to center. With one out he stole second before Ryan Clausen drew a walk.

With two outs Jordan Camp reached on a fielding error by Kennedy shortstop Chris Sadler and DeAngelis raced around from second to score.

The Cougars (24-17) loaded the bases in the second inning against Howard, the River Kings’ starting pitcher, without a hit as they drew two walks and had a pair of hit batsmen in the inning, but Howard escaped thanks to a popped up bunt that turned into a double play and a lineout.

Kennedy made it 1-1 in the third when Schultz led off with a triple to left-center and Brad Merritt followed with an RBI single to right-center.

Clinton went in front 2-1 in the fourth. With one out Drew Matzen looped a single to right-center. Lakin, who was 2-for-3, followed with an RBI triple to right-center.

Lakin was then picked off of third base by Sadler, the Cougars’ second of three pitchers.

Kennedy pulled even at 2-2 in the fifth on Nate Shelton’s two-out RBI double off the right-field wall. The Cougars had a chance to take the lead when Shonka followed with a single to right, but River Kings right fielder Darryl Sexton gunned down Shelton on a bang-bang play at the plate to end the inning.

Clinton built its 4-2 lead with runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

In the River Kings’ half of the fifth inning Howard led off and grounded to third. The throw pulled Cox, the first baseman, off the bag, but he attempted to tag Howard.

The first-base umpire ruled Howard avoided the tag and was safe, but the plate umpire overruled and called Howard out.

DeAngelis followed with a double to left before Jake Mangler stroked an RBI single to center and went to second on the throw toward the plate.

Mangler moved to third when a pickoff throw by Shonka, who came on in relief in the fifth and went the rest of the way, was missed by second baseman Travis Olson for an error.

With two outs Hovey was hit by a pitch and took second on an uncontested steal. But, he and Mangler were left stranded as Shonka struck out Camp.

With one out in the Clinton sixth Lakin singled to right-center. He stole second as the throw was dropped. With two outs Lakin moved to third on a wild pitch. Howard then delivered a bad-hop RBI single past Cox and into right field.

The River Kings got the leadoff man on in the seventh and eighth innings but could not cash in.

In the bottom of the seventh DeAngelis drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second by Mangler. But, after Clausen was intentionally walked Hovey hit into an inning-ending double play.

Camp reached on an error to start the last of the eighth. He was forced out on a fielder’s choice by Matzen who was moved to second when Lakin sacrificed. But, Shonka struck out Shawn Winoski to end the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth DeAngelis singled to left with one out. Mangler then fouled out before Clausen hit into a game-ending fielder’s choice.

Both teams’ pitching was solid.

Howard was charged with two runs on five hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out one. Hovey was charged with three runs, just one earned, on four hits and two walks over 3 2/3 innings.

Schultz got the start for Kennedy. He allowed just one unearned run on one hit and two walks over three innings. Sadler allowed a run on two hits in the fourth. Shonka was charged with two runs on five hits and a pair of walks over his five innings. He struck out four.

It was the final high school game for four Clinton’s seniors who were in the starting lineup Wednesday: Clausen, Lakin, Hovey and Howard.

Returning starters include juniors Camp, DeAngelis and Matzen; sophomores Sexton and Winoski; and Mangler, a mere freshman.

“What we’ve done as a team is unbelievable,” Hovey said. “We’re best friends. We at least made it here.”

“We’ve had a terrific season,” Howard said. “It’s been an amazing year and it’s been a great experience out here.”

“We had a blast,” Lakin said. “We had a good year. We had a lot of fun. We were ranked pretty high at one point. It was fun coming here too.”

“We had a great year,” Snowden said. “It’s just unfortunate it’s over.”

C.R. KENNEDY 5, CLINTON 4

KENNEDY CLINTON

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Schultz p 5 2 2 0 DeAngls 2b 4 2 3 0

Merritt dh 5 1 1 1 Mangler 3b 4 0 1 1

Martino 3b 0 0 0 0 Clausen 1b 2 0 0 0

Shelton rf 5 0 1 1 Hovey cf 3 0 0 0

Manning pr 0 1 0 0 Camp lf 4 0 0 0

Shonka cf 3 0 2 1 Matzen dh 4 1 1 0

Wagner cf 0 0 0 0 Sexton rf 0 0 0 0

Sadler ss 1 0 0 0 Lakin ss 3 1 2 1

Christnsn cf 2 0 0 1 Winoski c 4 0 0 0

Caviness c 4 0 1 0 Howard p 4 0 1 1

Petersen cr 0 0 0 0

Thomas lf 2 0 0 0

Olson 2b 3 0 0 0

Cox 1b 4 1 2 0

Totals 34 5 9 3 Totals 32 4 8 3



Kennedy 001 010 201 —5

Clinton 100 111 000 —4

E—Kennedy 4, Clinton 1. DP—Kennedy 2, Clinton 1. LOB—Kennedy 10, Clinton 8. 2B—Schultz, Shelton, Shonka, Caviness, Cox, DeAngelis. 3B—Schultz, Lakin. SB—DeAngelis, Hovey, Lakin. CS—Howard. S—Thomas, Mangler, Lakin.

IP H R ER BB SO

Kennedy

Schultz 3 1 1 0 2 3

Sadler 1 2 1 1 0 0

Shonka (W) 5 5 2 2 2 4

Clinton

Howard 5 1/3 5 2 2 3 1

Hovey (L) 3 2/3 4 3 1 2 0

HBP—by Howard (Sadler, Thomas); by Shonka (Hovey). WP—Shonka. Balk—Hovey. Time—2:16.

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