Times Staff Reporter
JASONVILLE -- The Clay City baseball squad began postseason play with a bang Thursday, picking up an impressive 7-1 victory over Union in the first round of the Shakamak Sectional.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first, the Eels quickly bounced back and took control of the game. After Ben Denker reached third with two outs, Tyler Bridgewater gave Clay City a lead it would never relinquish, blasting a two-run homer to left center.
The Eels continued the two-out heroics in the next frame. Kole Smith led off the inning with a single and reach second when Colten Harbour walked. After the next two batters were retired, Ben Denker brought Smith home with a double.
Eel coach Vance Edmondson emphasized clutch hitting to his team before the game, and said early clutch play helped his team establish the game's tone.
"I was very pleased with the way we hit tonight," Edmondson said. "We got big hits when we needed them, and we hit the ball well all night."
The Eel offense added two more runs in the third on a two-run single by Tanner Persinger. They added further insurance in the fifth, when Austin Evans scored on a throwing error, and in the sixth when Denker added his second RBI of the night with a double.
The offensive effort helped give a nice cushion to sophomore pitcher Brylan Jones, who cruised after allowing a run in a shaky first inning. Jones seemed firmly in control of his pitches all night, allowing just two runners in scoring position after the first inning.
For the evening, Jones allowed one run on five hits, while striking out eight to only one walk. Edmondson was quick to hand out praise to the effort of his young pitcher.
"For a sophomore to come out and pitch like he did, I was very happy to see it," Edmondson said. "He got good (defense) behind him and he made the pitches he needed to make."
With the win, Clay City advances to face tournament host Shakamak at 8:30 Saturday night. The Eels played with the Lakers for four innings in the contest, before coming unglued and dropping a lopsided 18-1 decision. Despite the drubbing, Edmondson said he believed his club was much more confident now than it was during that game, and said everyone involved with the team was optimistic they could compete in Saturday's semi-final contest.
"We know we can play with them," Edmondson said. "We just have to go out and play with confidence like we did tonight and we have a chance against anybody."
The game will follow the first contest, a 6 p.m., match-up between White River Valley and North Central.
Class A Shakamak Sectional
2B- CC (Denker, Newton). HR- CC (Bridgewater)