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BROWNSTOWN – Despite throwing to a miniscule strike zone, Patoka sophomore Johnnie Clift still managed 11 strikeouts during a 9-4 Patoka win on Monday.
The home plate umpire was squeezing both pitchers during the game – helping lead to eight walks – but Patoka coach Joey Eddy was glad to see his young hurler battle through the challenge.
“He’s got a level head,” Eddy said. “He trusted his stuff to keep them off-balance, because he had to hit a coffee can.
“We’ve been wanting Johnnie to bulldog through a situation.”
For Brownstown, senior Colten Hunter was also able to stay level-headed, striking out seven in five innings.
“He’s been pitching for a long time, so he knows how umpires work,” said Bombers coach Ken Milano. “If he thought he had it but didn’t get (the call), he just adjusted a little bit.”
The game, however, came down to which team would get the first big hit, as defense was at a premium.
That hit would come off of the bat of Patoka’s Ryan Miller, who slashed a bases-loaded double to left field that brought home two runs during a five-run fifth inning.
“It was bad baseball,” Milano said. “It was a sloppy game all the way around, but they got the bases loaded and got a clutch hit.”
Miller, who struggled mightily at the start of the season, went 3-for-4 at the plate, with two doubles, and Eddy has been pleased with Miller’s recent performance.
The sophomore also added a solid single in the game.
“He’s hit the ball hard the last two or three games,” Eddy said. “He was struggling earlier, but he’s put in the extra work and hit the ball hard three times today.”
Patoka twice left runners in scoring position in the first three innings, allowing the Bombers to take a 2-1 lead.
Quinn Wadkins scored for the Warriors in the first after an error, but four Patoka errors in the bottom of the second allowed Brownstown’s Brady McDowell and Dustin Lawson to score.
Clift singled and scored on a single by senior Blake Budds in the top of the third, but the hope for a rally was killed when a base-running blunder allowed the Bombers to convert a 9-1-2-4 double play.
On a bases-loaded single to right field, the runner at third base retreated because he thought the ball had been caught. Brownstown relayed the ball from right field to the pitcher, who threw to the catcher.
Because there were then two runners at third base, the catcher threw to second to complete the inning-ending double play.
“Take away the first three innings, and we played a great game,” Eddy said. “We had four errors in one inning and an awful base running mistake (early on).”
Brownstown would later end the seventh on a 1-2-3 double play.
Monday, April 23
WP: Clift; 7 IP, 11 K, 4 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 HBP
LP: C. Hunter; 5 IP, 7 K, 7 R, 5 ER, 6 H, 5 BB, 1 HBP
Warriors: Miller, 3-for-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI, run; Clift, 2-for-4, 3 runs, 3 SB; Budds, 1-for-4, RBI, run; Clinton Hood, 1-for-2, RBI; John Houston, 1-for-4, RBI, SB; Wadkins, 1-for-5, run; Jake Orrell, run, RBI; Mark Rogers, run.
Bombers: McDowell, 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, 2 runs; Austin Hunter, 1-for-4, run; Shane Sefton, 1-for-4; Lawson, run.