The Meridian Star
Clarkdale High School may only be a small 2A school in Mississippi, but the Bulldogs certainly did not play that way Saturday afternoon. Clarkdale split its two games on the day, narrowly losing to Alabama class 5A Demopolis 3-1, before coming back to beat Northeast Lauderdale later in the day.
Demopolis got off to a fast start in the first game, when Clarkdale starting pitcher Chance McDonald hit the Tiger's leadoff batter Matt Eicher to begin the game. After a sacrifice bunt moved Eicher to second base, Mason Rogers delivered a RBI single through the hole at short to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. McDonald would hit next batter and then give up a single to load the bases, but the senior was able to get out of the jam by getting Steven Stewart to ground out to end the inning.
The bases-loaded jam is one of three McDonald was able to work his way out of on the day, as Demopolis stranded 14 runners on base and nine in scoring position.
“He'll do that,” Clarkdale head coach Scott Gibson said of McDonald. “He'll put himself in some jams, but he's a real competitor and he normally gets himself right out of it.”
Demopolis starting pitcher Brock Montgomery kept Bulldog batters off-balanced all day, striking out nine batters in 4 2/3 innings to earn the win for the Tigers.
“They run some good arms to the mound,” Gibson said. “I don't want to take anything away from them, but we didn't have a good offensive approach today. We got away from some of the things we have been working on, but we will put it behind us and forget about it.”
Clarkdale's best opportunity came in the bottom of the fifth inning, as the Bulldogs loaded the bases for McDonald with two outs trailing 3-0. McDonald was able to work a walk to put a run across for the Bulldogs. However, cleanup hitter Jonathan Porter popped up to the pitcher during the next at bat to kill the rally for Clarkdale.
“That was big there,” Gibson said. “We had runners in scoring position with the heart of our order, you usually hope you can get something from that situation.”
Despite a solid effort against a much larger school, Gibson said his team missed plenty of opportunities to come away with the win.
“We feel like we let a game get away from us that we should have won,” Gibson said. “We just have to learn from it and move forward.”
In their second game of the day the Bulldogs relied on two freshmen to lead them to a 5-1 win over Northeast Lauderdale.
Parker Chaney went 5 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and striking out six batters to earn the win for Clarkdale. Dawson Ivey also earned his first save, pitching the final 1 2/3 innings.
“We told both of them, you don't have to go out and win the game, just play your role out there and throw strikes,” Gibson said. “That's exactly what they did. When I went out to the mound to talk to (Chaney) I just told him, you did your job today, you did exactly what we needed you to do.”
After splitting the two games on the day, Clarkdale moves to 15-4 on the season. The Bulldogs will take on Enterprise at home on Tuesday.
“That's very big for us to beat a 4A school,” Gibson said. “It's good for us, but for Chaney, it's even better. Now he knows he can go out and pitch against everybody, and next year we will need him to go out and win district games for us.”