MOUNT AYR — Clarke put the pressure on Pella Christian early in Saturday’s Class 2A Region 11 opener at Mount Ayr, but the Indians couldn’t muster enough offense to keep up in a season-ending 8-4 loss to Pella Christian.
The Eagles broke open a 2-2 tie in the third inning, as Payton Winship went from in control to throwing two wild pitches that scored runs. Luke Mulder followed with an RBI single for Pella Christian that stretched the lead to 5-2.
Winship had been unhittable up until that point and finished with four strikeouts and four walks. He allowed just two hits.
“We had some defensive miscues and some passed balls just killed us in those middle innings,” Clarke coach Lonnie Smith said.
Winship was replaced by Conner Deutsch in the fourth, and pitched until there were two outs in the sixth. He was replaced by Casey Kindred for the final few Eagle hitters.
The Eagles added on two runs in the fifth and another in the six to stretch their lead to six.
In Clarke’s last chance at the plate, Zethann May was hit by a pitch and came around to score on a throwing error during a run down. After a Conner Deutsch walk, Taylor Henry, who walked himself, came around to score on Matthew Stickels, dribbler down the third base line that resulted in an infield hit.
The 8-4 deficit held though, as the Indians were caught stealing on the base paths and on a fielder’s choice that ended the contest.
Clarke had gotten on top first when Stickels hit a sacrifice fly that scored Winship.
After falling behind 2-1 on Kade VanderMolen’s home run jack to deep center field, Clarke tied the game up when Kindred’s fly ball to center was enough to allow Stickels to tag up from third and score.
Smith was pleased with the early energy from his team.
“Just coming out hot, being ready to play and they did that,” Smith said. “We got up early and then the struggles, they just got to us. We let them get the best of us for a few innings. We came back there at the end which is encouraging to see. These guys don’t normally fight through that kind of adversity that well. That was encouraging.”
The Indians finished the season 4-17.
The possibility exists to bring back every player from this year’s team, as there were no seniors on the roster.
“Another year of growth and those freshmen becoming sophomores, there’s going to be a huge difference for next year,” Smith said.
Pella Christian 8, Clarke 4
R H E
Cla 100 100 0 — 4 3 1
PC 002 321 x — 8 6 5
Cl: Payton Winship 4K 4BB, Conner Deutsch (4) 1K 1BB 1HBP, Casey Kindred (7) 0K 1BB and Will Smith. PC: Devin Haveman 3K 2BB 1HBP, Will Dembski (5) 5K 2BB 1HBP and Kade VanderMolen. W — Haveman. L— Winship. HR —PC: VanderMolen. 3B — None. 2B — PC: Will Dembski 1. RBI — PC: VanderMolen 3, Luke Mulder 1, Cameron Vanderwal 1. Cl: Matthew Stickels 2, Casey Kindred 1. Multiple hitters — Mur: Dembski 2.