By Jon Gremmels Herald Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — BETTENDORF — Cody Collender doesn’t head to the plate thinking home run. But, he certainly doesn’t mind enjoying them.
Collender hit a pair of homers in the second game Monday, including a go-ahead three-run shot in a six-run third inning, as Clinton salvaged a split with Bettendorf in Mississippi Athletic Conference baseball. Bettendorf used three home runs and came back twice to win the first game 10-8 before the River Kings took Game 2 10-5.
“It’s not the first time I’ve done that,” Collender, who has hit six home runs this season, said of sparking the team with the long ball. “I like doing it. It’s a pleasure to do that to get the team going.”
Trailing 2-0 after Bettendorf got an RBI double from Trey Muilenburg and a run-scoring single from Austin Broyles in the bottom of the second, Clinton wasted no time getting those runs back -- and more.
Evan Jackson led off the top of the third with the first of his three walks in the game and advanced to third when Dustin Caldwell ripped a single past second baseman Brett Malsam. Jackson scored on the first of two consecutive groundouts, then Jake Faur kept the inning going with a single to left. Collender followed with his three-run homer.
“Cody is a kid who generates so much bat speed that when he squares up he’s going to hit the ball well,” Clinton coach Kevin Cunningham said.
Collender’s home run gave Clinton a 4-2 lead, then Jordan Chapman followed after Ryan Driscoll was hit by a pitch and deposited another one over the left-field fence to make it 6-2.
“It felt pretty good, but it was my only hit tonight so I can’t feel too good about it,” Chapman said.
“I didn’t think Jordan got good hacks in the first game, so I challenged him in the second game to square it up and hit it, and he did,” Cunningham said.
That was enough offense for 6-foot-6 left-handed freshman pitcher Cole Pennock -- with relief help from Driscoll. Pennock pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits.
“I’m confident every time we run Cole out there that we’re going to compete,” Cunningham said.
Jackson led off the fourth with another walk and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
The Bulldogs pulled within 7-4 in the fifth, but Faur singled in a run in the sixth to make it 8-4. Muilenburg’s home run made it 8-5 in the bottom half, and Pennock exited after giving up a single to Broyles.
Driscoll took over on the mound and gave up a single and a walk to load the bases but got out of trouble with a strikeout and flyout. Collender then led off the seventh with his second homer, and Clinton added a final run on a wild pitch.
The River Kings scored plenty of runs in the first game, too, but the outcome wasn’t as good.
“I feel we played well enough to win both,” Cunningham said. “It’s frustrating when you have one of your top pitchers on the mound (Jake Simpson), spot him three runs and they put five on us right away. Jake wasn’t hitting his spots today.”
The River Kings scored three unearned runs in the first inning of the opener, helped by two Bettendorf errors. Faur had the big hit, delivering a two-run double with two outs. It was the start of a 7-for-7 day at the plate for the sophomore.
“Jake is hitting everything he sees,” said Cunningham, who moved Faur up from the No. 6 spot in the order in Game 1 to No. 3 for the second game.
“I was seeing the ball really well,” Faur said.
Unfortunately for the Kings, the Bulldogs were seeing it well, too.
Broyles led off the bottom of the first with an infield hit, and before the inning ended, Cam Wernentin had delivered a two-run double and Kris Klabunde smashed a three-run home run.
Clinton got one run back in the second on Alex Caldwell’s RBI single, but Bettendorf extended its lead to 7-4 in the third.
It didn’t take long for Clinton to erase that deficit, though.
Dustin Caldwell led off the fourth with a bunt single, Alex Caldwell followed with an infield hit and Cody Nolan loaded the bases when he was hit by a pitch. Collender drove in a run when he reached on an error, then two outs later, Faur tied it with a two-run single to center field.
“I took a curve up the middle,” he said.
Collender scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch, but the lead again was short-lived.
Matt Albert followed a walk to Alex Beals with a two-run homer off Faur in the bottom of the fourth, and one out later, Matt Ulrich delivered a solo shot for the final margin.
Despite the split, the River Kings left feeling much better than a week earlier when they managed just two hits in each game in a pair of losses to Pleasant Valley.
“If we’re going to lose, that’s how I’d choose,” Collender said of the 10-8 loss.
“It’s very positive,” Chapman said of the offense. “We went to Fort Dodge and had 37 hits in three games and then had just four hits in two games (two days later). I think we’ll be fine the rest of the year.”
They get their next test Thursday when they play host to Davenport Assumption in a 5 p.m. doubleheader at Eagle Heights Elementary School.
BETTENDORF 10, CLINTON 8
Clinton 310 400 0 -- 8 9 0
Bettendorf 502 300 x -- 10 12 4
Jake Simpson (2 ip, 6 h, 7 r, 7 er, 2 b, 1 so), Jake Faur (4 ip, 6 h, 3 r, 3 er, 1 bb, 3 so) and Murray Henricks; Matt Ulrich (4 ip, 6 h, 8 r, 2 er, 4 bb, 4 so), Nate Rudsell (1 2/3 ip, 1 h, 0 r, 2 bb, 1 so), Brett Malsam (1 1/3 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 0 bb, 0 so). Multiple hits -- Clinton (Alex Caldwell 2, Cody Nolan 2, Faur 3); Bettendorf (Austin Broyles 2, Cam Wernentin 2, Ulrich 2, Trey Muilenburg 2). 2B -- Clinton (Faur); Bettendorf (Wernentin). HR -- Bettendorf (Kris Klabunde, Matt Albert, Ulrich). RBIs -- Clinton (A. Caldwell, Cody Collender, Driscoll, Faur 4); Bettendorf (Albert 2, Wernentin 2, Ulrich, Klabunde 3, Nick Heimendinger).
CLINTON 10, BETTENDORF 5
Clinton 006 101 2 -- 10 9 3
Bettendorf 020 021 0 -- 5 9 2
Cole Pennock (5 1/3 ip, 7 h, 5 r, 5 er, 4 bb, 2 so), Driscoll (1 2/3 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 1 bb, 4 so) and Faur; Justin Hill (4 ip, 6 h, 7 r, 7 er, 4 bb, 5 so), Muilenburg (2 ip, 2 h, 2 r, 2 er, 2 bb, 1 so), Bryce Melton (1 ip, 1 h, 1 r, 0 er, 1 bb, 2 so) and Albert. Multiple hits -- Clinton (Faur 4, Collender 2, Dustin Caldwell 2); Bettendorf (Broyles 2, Alex Beals 2, Muilenburg 2). 2B -- Clinton (Faur); Bettendorf (Klabunde, Muilenburg). HR -- Clinton (Collender 2, Jordan Chapman); Bettendorf (Muilenburg). RBIs -- Clinton (A. Caldwell, Faur, Collender 4, Chapman 2); Bettendorf (Broyles, Beals, Klabunde, Muilenburg 2).