Clarinda baseball made it to state for the first time in 16 years, but saw it’s tournament come to an end in the first round of the Class 2A tournament at Merchant Park in Carroll on Tuesday, losing 6-2 to Orange City Unity Christian.
The game was tied at 2-2 after three innings before the Knights added one in the fourth and three in the sixth to seal the victory.
“I thought we competed extremely hard. Unity had a good kid on the mound,” Clarinda head coach Rod Eberly said. “He battled and mixed up his pitches well. I thought we competed at a high level but we didn’t do some routine things that ended up costing us today. You can’t do that in the state tournament.”
Unity Christian pitcher Tanner Schouten pitched the first 6 2/3 innings allowing two runs on six hits, while striking out nine batters and walking three.
Clarinda ended the game with five errors.
“I just think when you get into high-pressure situations you either make plays or you don’t,” Eberly said. “Today we were on the other end of that. We made some dumb baseball plays that ended up resulting in runs and you can’t do that.”
The Cardinals found success offensively, finishing with six hits and taking advantage of three Knight errors.
“Our pitch selection was pretty good, “Eberly said. “We were getting our pitches, we weren’t missing them. When you can do that against a good pitcher early in a game, that’s what they say, you have to get to a good pitcher early. We did that, but he got settled in there in the middle innings and was pretty tough.”
Unity Christian committed one error in the top of the first, allowing sophomore Wyatt Smith to reach second, but forced the final out to keep the Cardinals off the scoreboard.
The Knights scored a run after reaching first on a base on balls, stealing second and scoring on a throwing error to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
Clarinda senior Jon McCall tied the game up in the top of second with a one-out RBI that scored freshman Cole Baumgart who hit a one-out single earlier in the inning. Junior Jarod McNeese also recorded a single in the top of the second.
The Cardinals walked the leadoff batter in the bottom of the second, who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and third on a wild pitch, but got out of the jam after two strikeouts.
Smith reached first on a base on balls in the third, stole second and score on an RBI double from junior Cooper Neal, giving the Cardinals a 2-1 edge.
The Knights earned their first hit of the game in the third and tied the game on a wild pitch later in the inning. Unity threatened to take the lead placing runners on corners, before Clarinda worked out of the jam.
Clarinda went three up and three down in the top of the fourth.
The Knights took a one-run lead in the bottom half of the inning, after two one-out doubles and a throwing error. The Cardinals prevented further damage, forcing a lineout and a groundout to strand a Unity runner on third.
Another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fifth kept Clarinda off the scoreboard.
Unity hit a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth and plated a runner after an error, but two strikeouts ended the threat and kept the Knight’s one-run advantage.
Neal reached second on an error to start the sixth inning and advanced to third on a wild pitch. But, the Knights forced a double play to end the inning and keep their lead.
Unity plated another run in the sixth after a one-out single, two errors and a bunt. A stolen base and two-out, two-RBI single stretch the lead to 6-2 before Clarinda recorded the final out.
Cardinal sophomore Isaac Jones hit a one-out single in the top of the seventh and Tadyn Brown placed runners on corners with a two-out single, but a strikeout ended Clarinda’s state tournament.
Michael Shull started on the mound for the Cardinals. He pitched four innings, allowing three runs -- one earned -- on three hits, while striking out four batters and waking five. Neal pitched the final two innings, allowing three runs, none of which were earned on four hits. He struck out two and walked none.
Shull, Schmitt, Neal, Logan Green, Jarod McNeese and McCall all recorded one run and Neal and McCall rallied RBIs.
Clarinda loses four seniors off this year’s squad – McCall, Shull, Edgar Rodriguez and Cole Ridnour.
Despite losing some key talent, Eberly hopes the remaining players build off this year’s state tournament appearance.
“I’m very excited about the future,” he said. “Obviously I’m going to miss the four seniors that were here and contributed in a big way this year. We’re excited and hopefully we can build on this and come up here and get a game next year and see where it goes.”
Clarinda (18-12) 011 000 0 -- 2 6 5
Unity Christian (21-7) 101 103 X -- 6 7 3