WILLIAMSBURG - Before taking the field, Trojans coach Seth Koch reemphasized to his team the importance of putting the ball in play.
For Clear Creek-Amana, many times that was more than enough as the South Tama County defense gave up numerous extra outs to an opportunistic Clipper squad.
Committing five errors and allowing six of seven runs unearned, the Trojans dug themselves an early three-run hole before giving up another four-run burst in a 7-2 loss in a Class 3A District 10 semifinal Friday.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
The Clippers (14-23) advance to face Williamsburg (18-18) in the District 10 final Monday at 7 p.m. in Williamsburg. The Raiders stomped Center Point-Urbana 12-2 in the second game.
Clear Creek-Amana pounced on three errors in the first frame to grab a 3-0 lead, before putting the game away with a four-spot in the fifth. The Trojans (20-12) pulled within a run in the third before the Clippers made the most of two more STC miscues to swing momentum back on their side.
"Clear Creek-Amana put the ball in play and put some pressure on us defensively," Koch said. "You take those two innings away and it's a heck of a baseball game, but you have to play all seven innings and unfortunately we came up short in those two innings defensively."
After making some headway in the second and third, the Clippers closed things out in the fifth.
Nile Rourke reached on an error to open the frame before stealing second and moving to third on A.J. Liddell's single to right. Rourke scored on a double steal when the Trojans initially made the throw to second, but couldn't get the ball back home in time. Stephen Jensen was hit by a pitch on the next at-bat as the runners moved up a base on a wild pitch. An errant throw from second to first on another infield hit allowed both runs to score, pushing the Clippers' cushion to 6-2. Nick Kasenberg kept things going with an RBI single, before the Trojans finally got out of the frame with the eighth batter of the inning.
Clear Creek-Amana sent just as many to the plate in its opening at-bat with Jacob Klingeman reaching on an error and moving to second on a passed ball. Another throwing error on Rourke's bunt plated Klingeman as Rourke advanced to second. A Liddell single and a Tanner Bandy sac fly brought in Rourke, before another defensive miscue kept the inning alive. Jensen's liner to short was snared though the ensuing throw to try and double up Liddell at first sailed wide allowing courtesy runner Ben Ginerich to stretch the gap to 3-0.
"We didn't come as focused as we thought we were going to be," STC senior centerfielder Kaleb Davenport said. "They put the ball in play, which is what you have to do and we threw it around. We made mistakes and they capitalized on it."
The Trojans turned the tables in the bottom half of the second as Dalton Doyle and Noah Bearden reached on errors, sandwiching a single by Ian Slagle. Colson Frakes singled to right to bring in Doyle, though a diving stop by Jake Neubauer at short helped the Clippers escape with the bases loaded.
STC struck again in the third with Grant Koch's single through the infield driving in Kolton Smith. Doyle followed with another single and Hala drew a one-out walk, though the visitors retired the next two batters to keep the bases full again.
"We kicked it around in the first inning but I give our guys credit, we came back and battled," Coach Koch said. "We had a chance in the fourth but we left the bases loaded twice and only came away with one run. You can't do that."
The Trojans stranded 11 runners in the game, while the Clippers left five on base. STC had a runner in scoring position in both the fourth and fifth, but couldn't string together the hits against CCA's array of arms.
Liddell (4-4) started and helped his cause with a pair of singles, while surrendering two runs on four hits, with four strikeouts and three free bases in three innings. Travis Bowman issued two free passes and retired a trio on strikes, while allowing one hit in two innings. Colton Beckler gave up one hit, while fanning two in the last two frames.
Sam Kuhter (6-2) was solid in five innings but was saddled with the loss allowing seven runs (one earned) on six hits, one walk and a hit batsman. The departing senior, one of seven on the Trojan squad, fanned three batters in just his second loss of the season.
Doyle threw two no-hit frames in relief with a walk and strikeout.
Smith, Koch, Doyle, Slagle and Frakes each singled, while Hala added a double for the lone-extra base hit of the game for either squad.
The Trojans split with Clear Creek-Amana in Tiffin July 8. The Clippers claimed game one 15-5 in five innings, while the Trojans took the second game 8-4. ... The Trojans graduate seven seniors: Kyle Stephenson, Tank Keckler, Clay Waterbury, Landon Mathes, Kuhter, Bearden and Davenport.