By MATT MCKINNEY
Times Staff Reporter
CLAY CITY ¬-- The Clay City baseball team is still ironing out the rough parts in its game, and it showed Tuesday evening as they lost in a home game to the seventh-ranked team in Class A, North Central, 15-2.
Starting Clay City pitcher Kole Smith began his Tuesday debut well, getting two hitters out and catching the third stealing in a three-up, three-down half-inning.
The Thunderbirds' starting pitcher Connor Strain opened the game out on a positive tone for North Central. He sent the first player in Clay City's order, Ben Denker, packing with a strikeout. Strain followed that up by allowing a single by the Eels' Kole Smith. Smith then stole second and arrived on third by a fielder's choice hit from Tyler Bridgewater. However, third was as far as he would go as the final batter grounded out, ending the inning.
Smith attempted to continue his previous success in the second inning by not allowing a run throughout the duration of the inning. He walked the first batter, then the next one reached first on an outfield error. However, Smith finished the half-inning strong as he got a flyout and a strikeout on the inning's final two batters.
"Early on, I thought we did a good job," Clay City head coach Vance Edmondson said. "We threw strikes tonight, held them to seven hits, we just had some problems behind him in the field."
Those problems were evident for Clay City as they committed five errors in the contest.
Strain continued working on the mound in the bottom of the second. He struck out three batters in a no-hit inning.
The Eels tried to respond similarly in the top of the third, but the Thunderbirds were having none of it. North Central racked up a walk, two doubles, and a hit-by-pitch in a four run inning.
The Eels' offense couldn't respond in the bottom of the third as Strain knocked out the first three batters.
In the top of the fourth, North Central's offense found yet another gear. The first five batters in the inning found the bases, three by hits. That forced Edmondson to make a pitching change to Jake Tiefel. However, Tiefel didn't fare much better as he gave up two hits and two walks in a 7-run inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Eels' offense finally came alive. Bridgewater went to first on a walk, then stole second. Brylan Jones made it to first on an error, then stole second, pushing Bridgewater to third. Colton Harbour collected an RBI as Bridgewater scored on a passed ball and Jones would score on a fielder's choice.
North Central found the necessary offense to go home early, scoring four runs on three walks and one hit.
The Eels couldn't respond to make the epic comeback, striking out twice, ending the game.
"It's still early," Edmondson said. "It's good experience for us, and hopefully our bats will come around."
North Central 004 74 -- 15 7 2
Clay City 000 20 -- 2 1 5
2B -- NC (Bell 2, Strain, Johnson, Harding), CC (None). SB -- NC (None), CC (Bridgewater, Jones)