SOLON — Conventional wisdom would have had the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) varsity baseball team sunk quickly by the Spartans of Solon.
Conventional wisdom would’ve been wrong.
A much improved Clipper squad sailed into Solon Friday evening for a doubleheader against their friendly rivals to the east. Although the Spartans triumphed, the Clippers fought through both games to fall 9-3 and 13-7.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in terms of character, and we’re starting to play the game the right way,” CCA skipper Andrew Davis said afterward. “We’re more competitive now. Some of these games earlier in the season, we might have just rolled over and pitched a tent. Now we’re staying in the games and we’re giving ourselves a chance.”
Both teams were held scoreless in the first two innings of the opener. The Spartans broke out on a six-run offensive in the bottom of the third, but Clipper defense held fast for scoreless fourth and fifth innings. The Spartans finished the job with three in the bottom of the sixth, winning on 15 hits with a pair of errors.
The Clippers were denied runs until the top of the sixth when Dalton Beckler and Justin Keith both singled. An RBI single by Zach Anderson scored Beckler. Jared Ganschow came on as a courtesy runner to pitcher Anderson, and both Ganschow and Keith advanced on a passed ball. Dillon Villhauer came to the plate with two on, and two out. A single was all it took to bring Keith home for the RBI and a 6-2 deficit.
In the seventh, Zach Volk and Dalton Beckler both walked. A.J. Liddell hit a pop fly to right field which was caught, but a Spartan error allowed Volk to score for the final run. The Clippers put up six hits and had five errors. Beckler threw 2.7 innings giving up six runs (two earned) and seven hits while striking out two. Anderson relieved Beckler and gave up three runs (one earned) and eight hits. Anderson struck-out one and walked two.
The nightcap kicked off with four Solon runs in the first two innings. The Spartans added one more in the bottom of the third, four in the fourth, one in the fifth and three in the sixth.
The Clippers put together a three-run effort in the top of the third to make it a 4-3 ballgame. Anderson walked following a Keith strikeout. Evan Hergert singled his way onboard and brought Villhauer to the plate for an RBI double which scored Anderson. A Nile Eckermann RBI single brought Hergert in while a Schulte RBI single scored Villhauer. Eckermann was left stranded at third.
Down 9-3 in the top of the fifth, Eckermann led-off for the Clippers with a single but picked up an extra base. Volk singled and advanced Eckermann to third. A pass ball allowed Eckermann to score.
In the sixth, with the score 10-4, sophomore Doug Yansky led off with a solo home run, his first in varsity play.
“I couldn’t see it for the lights,” Yansky said after the game, “I figured it was gonna be a fly out.” But it wasn’t and his teammates called for him to run the bases. Hergert met him at home holding up his batting helmet for Yansky to bump with his own. Yansky almost didn’t play, and found himself on the receiving end of a Coach Davis chewing out. He’d neglected to pack his cleats for the road trip. Fortunately for Yansky and the Clippers, Aaron Campbell let Yansky borrow his…although they were two sizes smaller.
Villhauer and Eckermann both singled and both found their way across home plate to narrow the gap. The Clippers put up 11 hits and made a pair of errors. Villhauer started on the mound and worked four innings giving up nine runs (six earned) and eight hits. He walked two and struck-out two. Yansky, small shoes and all, relieved Villhauer for two innings of work. Yansky gave up four earned runs and five hits, walked three and struck-out one.