Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- The first three innings of the annual Clay City and Shakamak baseball dual was a tight affair as the Lakers held a 1-0 lead on a solo home run by Bill Newton. However, control problems quickly mounted for the Clay City pitching staff and the Lakers were able to blow open the game with a 13-run fifth inning on the way to an 18-1 conference victory.
Clay City starting pitcher, A.J. Evans, held the Lakers mostly in check during the early stages of his stint on the mound. Newton's long ball was the only damage on the scoreboard through the third frame. The Lakers' patience at the plate in the fourth inning helped set the table for a three-run rally as Evans gave up a lead off walk to Tyler Grisson and a single to Eric Salter. Grissom came in to score on a wild pitch and John Smith reached with one out on a walk. Evans was able to coax a ground out from Scott McNabb, but Newton followed with a two-run double to centerfield for a 4-0 Shakamak advantage.
Newton proved to be the biggest thorn in Clay City's side outside of the control issues. The Shakamak senior made the most of his five trips to the plate, hitting a pair of home runs to go with the two-run double. All told, Newton had six RBI's in the contest, including a three-run home run in the 13-run sixth inning.
The Eels got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning as Ben Denker doubled down the leftfield line to lead off the frame and came around to score on a double by Tyler Bridgewater to get Clay City within 4-1.
The Lakers added a single run in the fifth inning as Shakamak pitcher, Patrick Green, launched a solo home run.
The devastating sixth inning came as Clay City's Brylan Jones struggled to find the strike zone, hitting the first two batters of the inning before getting Newton and T.J. Hill to flyout. The Eels had a shot at getting out of the inning as Smith tried to steal third, but the throw to third from Denker skipped into the outfield to score the first run. McNabb then came in to score on a wild pitch and the wheels began to come off for the Eels.
Jones walked the next three batters before hitting Salter to bring in another run. Another chance to get out of the inning came on a grounder that should have resulted in an out, but the throw to first was in the dirt for an error and two more runs came home. Smith reached on an error on a fly ball to centerfield to bring in another two runs and Jones hit McNabb to set up Newton's second long ball of the game.
Kole Smith came in to relieve Jones on the mound and didn't have much more success, allowing a single, hitting two more batters and walking three hitters before getting out of the inning.
The sixth inning damage included six walks and six batters and just three hits by the Lakers.
Shakamak's Green didn't have much trouble over the final two innings, allowing walks to Jeff Shaw in the sixth and Smith in the fifth, but struck out four over those two frames to finish off the victory.
Green allowed just three hits over six innings, striking out eight and walking two.
The Eels are back in action on Thursday with a road trip to Union (Dugger) at 4:30 p.m.
At Clay City
2B -- CC (Bridgewater), SH (Sparks). HR -- SH (Newton 2, Green).