RIVERDALE — A 13-1, five-inning win in Game 2 certainly made the ride back to Clinton more enjoyable. At the same time, the River Kings baseball players realized how close they came to a rare road sweep in their Mississippi Athletic Conference opener Thursday night.
“I’m happy with the split on the road,” Clinton coach Kevin Cunningham said. “My goal is to win two at home and split on the road, and I think we’ll compete well in the conference as far as the standings.”
One big inning was all that kept the Kings from sweeping the doubleheader at Pleasant Valley. A six-run sixth inning allowed the Spartans to overcome a 6-2 deficit in the opener and win 8-7.
“That’s probably one of the more disappointing games we’ve had,” Cunningham said. “I would even put that more than the game we lost to Sioux City East (in last year’s state semifinals). I think losing this one — we were up 6-2 with our ace on the mound — is still tough. I’m still thinking a little bit about that game and what I could have done differently.”
The second game became a rout when the River Kings sent 15 batters to the plate in a 10-run fifth inning. The inning included run-scoring singles from Dustin Caldwell, Murray Henricks and Johnny Sullivan, a two-run single by Nick Houzenga, Evan Jackson’s bases-loaded walk and a dropped popup that allowed the final two runs to score.
“I can’t say enough about the way we’re hitting the ball,” Cunningham said. “Definitely, our hitting is much improved from opening day two weeks ago. We’re really attacking the ball and I think we’re hitting well up and down the lineup.”
The River Kings had 11 hits in the second game, including three apiece from Caldwell and Henricks. Jackson was 2-for-2 with two walks and two runs batted in. Meanwhile, Jake Faur turned in a solid pitching outing.