CLINTON — Clinton returned home Monday for its first Mississippi Athletic Conference doubleheader of the season. The River Kings had a 5-1 record leading up to their games against Pleasant Valley, including three wins this past weekend at the Fort Dodge Invitational.
The Spartans’ pitching gave Clinton trouble, though, allowing only one run between two games. The River Kings ended Monday night 0-2 in the MAC, losing 5-0 and 3-1.
Pleasant Valley’s Game 1 starter Brock Neuhaus came into the game 2-0, going seven innings in both of his starts, striking out 21, walking six and giving up only one run in his 14 innings. He continued his dominant pitching against the River Kings, going another seven strong innings and taking home the shutout victory.
The right-hander asserted himself right away, retiring the first 11 Clinton batters he saw and facing the minimum through 5 2/3. Clinton second baseman and No. 3 hitter Cody Collender broke up the no-hit bid by Neuhaus with an infield single to short but was thrown out at second trying to advance on an overthrow to end the fourth inning.
Clinton got another baserunner in the next inning when catcher Jake Faur drew a two-out walk, but was stranded at first when the side ended. The River Kings managed only one more hit on the night against Neuhaus when Cody Nolan hit a seeing-eye single between short and third. Nolan, like Faur, was stranded on the bases.
Clinton struck out 10 times against Neuhaus in the first game as Neuhaus had his three-pitch arsenal working and used them all expertly.
The Clinton defense struggled during the first game but saw a gutsy performance from starter Jake Simpson, who kept the Kings in the game despite five errors from the defense behind him. Three of the five runs scored by the Spartans were unearned and the direct result of the River Kings errors, which proved to be their undoing.