By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
Clay City senior Kyler Rhodes isn't what you'd call a home run hitter. In fact, he'd gone his entire high school career without hitting one.
That is until Tuesday night's Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference match-up with Bloomfield and he made up for lost time.
Rhodes strung together an eye-popping sort of evening for the Eels, blasting a pair of grand slams against the Cardinals and rang up 10 RBIs in a 13-1 victory for Clay City.
While definitive statistics weren't available, it's believed that Rhodes may now own the school record for runs driven in during a single game.
"The coach had said something to me after the game that he thought it might be a record for most RBI in a game, but he wasn't a 100-percent sure about it," Rhodes said.
According to the state record book published by the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association in 2008, the last time a player him two grand slams in a single game was in 1998 when Austin Metzger of West Central High School clubbed a pair against Morgan Township. In fact, the record for grand slams in a career is held by Northrop's Jeff Griffith, with just five between 1982-84.
The record for RBI in a single game is 15 held by Southwood's Mike Wilhelm in 1992 and tied by Justin O'Conner of Cowan in 2007. Rhodes' single-game total places him in a tie for seventh-place with a number of players.
Rhodes' blasts weren't his only hits of the game either as he went 5-for-6 with a double as well for 12 total bases in the game.
Rhodes actually was ready to call it a pretty good day after his first slam in the fourth inning, but got the chance to add to his career day later in the game.
"Honestly, after I hit the first grand slam we were up by a bunch so I didn't want to bat again because I was 4-for-5 and I didn't want to mess that up," Rhodes said. "But ironically I hit another one. That was the first home run I'd hit in my high school career and then I hit another so it was pretty amazing."
The senior wasn't the only Eel to have a pretty good game as D.J. Newton had a pair of hits at the plate and only allowed two hits while striking out 13 Cardinals.
"Kyler was on fire at the plate," Clay City coach Ryan Swearingen said. "We hit the ball well tonight as a team and D.J. (Newton) pitched a good game for us."
Ryne Hayes and A.J. Evans were able to set the plate for Rhodes' big game as Hayes had three hits in four at-bats and scored three runs while Evans scored three times as well.
Rhodes wasn't alone in celebrating the career night as his teammates got into the act too.
"They were all cheering me on because they knew I wanted (a home run) pretty bad too," Rhodes said. "But we knew that (Bloomfield) would be the place to do it with the short fence."
As a whole, this has been a pretty great senior year for Rhodes and five of his baseball teammates.
The group was each on the basketball team that won the school's first sectional championship in 33 years, advancing to the Martinsville Regional before falling to the eventual Class A state champion, Jac-Cen-Del.
"It's pretty close to it individually," Rhodes said when asked to compare Tuesday's accomplishment to the sectional title. "This is probably the biggest individual accomplishment in my high school career. I've worked on baseball for a long time."
The victory pushed the Eels record to 3-4 overall and 3-1 in the SWIAC and Rhodes is hoping that the win will spark the Eels to a strong finish heading into the postseason.
"I think this could help us because Bloomfield had a pretty good record coming into (Tuesday night)," Rhodes said. "So beating them might give us a little jumpstart for the rest of the season and we can finish strong like in the basketball season.
And how would Rhodes feel if the Eels could break the sectional stranglehold by the defending state champion Shakamak Lakers.
"That would make the year. It would make the best year ever," Rhodes said.