By MATT MCKINNEY
Times Staff Reporter
CLAY CITY -- Just one or two plays can turn the tide of a baseball game. For Clay City, it was a pair of errors that forced the Eels to lose sole control of the SWIAC Conference to the Shakamak Lakers. Clay City lost to Shakamak at home Friday night, 7-1.
Senior Ben Denker started the game at pitcher for the Eels. Denker was in some trouble early as he gave up a single to Shakamak freshman Dylan Collins, then walked Patrick Green.
However, Denker was able to get out of the inning without giving up a run, as he struck out Brett Yeryar for the final out of the first.
The top of the second looked like it would be a repeat of the first for the Eels as two Lakers were able to get on base with two outs. However, senior Brock Dowell hit a two-RBI triple, with the help of a Clay City error.
Despite Shakamak's early 2-0 lead, Clay City assistant varsity coach Kirk Smith didn't think the strong start impacted the home team's chances.
"We're used to coming back," Smith said. "We're pretty tough emotionally, but it was just the errors. Errors killed us."
The Lakers scored two more runs in the third, again with the help of an error by the Eels.
Denker pitched 4 1/3 innings before being pulled for fellow senior Kole Smith.
In the top of the seventh, with Clay City down 5-1 and needing a quick stop to have a chance for a comeback, Smith had the definition of an up and down inning. He gave up four singles and a walk, but struck out three batters in the inning.
Clay City only scored one run, but they were able to get six hits off Shakamak's pitching duo of starter Green and reliever Braxton Yeryar. Half of those hits came off the bat of Denker.
Junior Colton Harbor hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth to avoid a shutout.
"I was very impressed with our team," Smith said. "We need to strengthen up our defense and our pitchers did a good job. We need to back our pitchers up with our defense."
Clay City (10-7 overall) hosts Owen Valley Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
At Clay City
1B -- CC 5 (Denker 3, Cesinger 1, Boggs 1), Sh 7 (Dowell 2, Collins 2, Yeryar 1, Sweet 1, Burris 1). 3B -- CC 0, Sh 1 (Bre. Yeryar). SB -- CC 0, Sh 1 (Green), CS -- CC 0, Sh 1 (Dowell). HR -- CC 1 (Harbour), Sh 0.