Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – In its previous two postseason openers Clear Creek Amana got an up-close look at how a strong start can change a game.
Two years ago Mount Vernon jumped to a 5-0 lead three innings into a district semifinal win over the Clippers and last year Central DeWitt scored two first-inning runs on its way to a 3-0 win.
On Friday it was the Clippers that struck quickly.
Clear Creek Amana scored two runs in the first inning and broke the game opener with nine-run second on its way to a 14-3 win over Mount Pleasant (21-16) in a Class 3A, District 9 semifinal in Solon.
“When we put up two in the top of the first that is going to give us confidence and it automatically puts them on their heels,” Clear Creek Amana coach Brent Henry said. “Last year, even with our number one throwing they got on us early and it put us on our heels so I was really pleased to see us come out early hitting the ball hard.”
Cody Ogden homered in the first inning and eighth-grader Ben Swails launched a three-run shot in the nine-run second inning as Clear Creek Amana won its first district game since 2015.
Clear Creek Amana (19-19) will face fifth-ranked Solon (30-10) in the District 9 title game on Monday at 7 p.m.
“It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth to lose first round so this definitely feels good,” Clear Creek Amana senior David Jensen said. “At the same time every team entering the postseason is going to lose their last game except for one so this doesn’t mean much unless we keep winning.”
After falling into early holes in postseason openers the past two seasons the Clippers led 2-0 just three batters into the game on Friday.
Eighth-grader Sam Young line a double to left field to lead off the game, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Cam Armstrong sacrifice fly.
Ogden then made it 2-0 when he launched a line drive home run well over the fence in left center field for his third home run of the season.
“I was just looking for my pitch and trying to hit the ball as hard as I can,” Ogden said. “He threw a curve first pitch and then left a fastball right down the middle.”
That was just the beginning for Clear Creek Amana.
The Clippers sent 14 batters to the plate and had six hits in a nine-run second inning that all but put the game away.
“What I was most proud about is that we didn’t just rest on that first inning,” Henry said. “We came out and hit in even harder in the second inning and put even more pressure on them.”
Jensen had the first of several big hits in the game-breaking second inning, a two-run single that put the Clippers up 5-0.
“It was huge for us to get up on top because that is immediately demoralizing for the other team and they are immediately on the defensive,” Jensen said. “They are already in their own heads so you have them if you keep going.”
Cam Smyka followed with a bloop RBI single to right field and after Grant Jensen drew a walk Swails hammered the first pitch he saw from relief pitcher Bryce Anderson just inside the left field foul pole for a 3-run homer.
The second home run of the season for Swails put Clear Creek Amana up 8-0.
“A lot of people throw me first-pitch fastball so I was just looking to drive the ball to the outfield hard,” Swails said. “I knew it was gone when I hit it I was just hoping it was going to stay fair.”
Young, David Jensen, Smyka, Swails and Casey Ogden all had two hits as the Clippers banged out 14 hits while matching their highest run total since scoring 17 in the second game of the season.
“I’ve loved our approach the last couple of days of practice, I thought we’ve had really good practices leading up to this, even hitting before the game today the guys were locked in,” Henry said. “You never expect 14 runs but I did us expect to hit the ball hard around the park and we certainly did that."
The early offense was more than enough for Armstrong who earned the win to improve to 7-3 on the season.
“Coming out and hitting the ball well was important,” Ogden said. “The energy was there right away which was a key. Once we get energy we just keep going.”
Clear Creek Amana 291 20 – 14 14 0
Mount Pleasant 000 12 – 3 6 3
W – Camden Armstrong L – Jordan Magnani
2B – CCA: Sam Young. MP: Bryce Anderson, Chase Lamm, Colby Potts
HR – CCA: Cody Ogden, Ben Swails. MP: Cooper Huckabone