DES MOINES — Both players, too, aren't satisfied with the taste of a semifinal finish.
"Nobody thought we could do this," Caldwell said. " We did it. We came to the semis and played our hearts out. You've got to go for those plays (to the wall).
"It's going to take a lot of work in the offseason, and it's going to be tough without this year's seniors. The incoming seniors have to come back next year and step up."
He scored the game's lone run in the sixth inning and led all Clinton hitters, going 2-for-4. During that rally, the River Kings loaded the bases with no outs, down 4-0. Cody Collender — Clinton's season-long offensive leader — popped out; Cody Nolan lined out. And Ryan Driscoll's hard drive to center scored only one run, with the inning ending on another hard knock at the plate.
East center fielder Dom Thompson-Williams threw a strike after scooping up Driscoll's hit, and catcher Dakota Blatchford nabbed Caldwell's brother, Dustin, at the plate for the final out.
"Timely hitting," Clinton coach Kevin Cunningham said of the inning. "We had several guys on base and a hit or two there and it changes the complexion of the game."
The play appeared to send Clinton tumbling from its Cloud 9 run in the playoffs. The landing back to earth was hard, but returning players are confident they will get back on their feet next season and compete again.
"We gave it 110 percent tonight to try and get that W. Unfortunately it didn't happen," Jackson said. "I'm just ready to get back to that first practice."