CLINTON – After a breakout junior season a year ago, Parker Mangelsen's senior campaign hasn't gone as planned.
Entering the summer at the top of the River Kings' pitching staff, Mangelsen encountered early struggles before an ulnar nerve strain (elbow) sidelined him for three weeks. But, at least for one night, the previous two months were forgotten.
Mangelsen dazzled on the mound, throwing a complete game and allowing only one run as Clinton handed state-ranked Davenport Assumption its first loss in league play this season with a 3-1 victory in the first of two games Monday night at the Durgin Complex.
After yielding a run in the second, Mangelsen went into cruise control. He retired the next nine batters of Assumption's lethal lineup and finished the game on a string of 15 outs in 17 batters.
Mangelsen called the outing the best of his varsity career, and Clinton coach Kevin Cunningham was right behind him.
"It was outstanding," Cunningham said. "Without question, that's the best performance I have seen him throw all year and it may be the best since he has been a River King."
Trailing 1-0 in the third, the Clinton offense rattled all-state hopeful Nick Gottilla just enough to push across three runs. Joe Simpson started the rally with a lead-off triple and Riley Hill brought him in with a sharp single to right field.
Matt Swamberger and Frederick Williams both waited out the fiery left-hander to draw timely walks, as Swamberger's free pass loaded the bases while Williams earned an RBI after watching the fourth ball slide out of the strike zone.
Monday night marked just the third loss on the mound in Gottilla's high-school career – a span of 22 starts. The Central Florida commit can reach 89 mph with his fastball and used a sharp curve to help register 11 strikeouts.
But the River Kings beat him.
"We were patient at the plate and when we got our pitch, we hit it," Cunningham said. "I'm really happy with how we did offensively, so hats off to my guys for going and competing tonight against certainly one of the best pitchers in the state."
Mangelsen did not walk a batter and only recorded three strikeouts, allowing the River Kings' defense, who Cunningham said was eager to play Monday night, make the necessary plays – and then some.
Mangelsen flashed a wide smile and pumped his first after recording the 21st out on a ground ball to Dante Brunson.
"I was pumped because Assumption is one of the best teams in the state," Mangelsen said. "A bunch of guys came up to me before the game and said they had my back... we worked a lot on defense and really preached it before the game. I trusted [my team] and let them hit it."
The Knights bounced back to win the second game 6-2 and seal the Mississippi Athletic Conference title with a 15-1 record.
Clinton led 2-1 after four innings, but Assumption sent nine batters to the plate and scored five runs in the fifth off River Kings starter Zach Hoffman.
Hoffman was one pitch away from leaving the inning with his team trailing by only one run, but Jeremy McIntosh clubbed a bases-clearing double into left-center field.
Hill went 3-for-4 in the nightcap and finished in a tie with Simpson for the team-lead in hits with four total on the evening.
The River Kings have a preview of substate action against Davenport West Wednesday at the Durgin Complex.