Sending 22 batters to the plate in the first two innings, the Assumption baseball team used a nine-run first inning to cruise past Clear Creek-Amana in five innings on Monday night.
The top-seeded Knights won 16-6 in a contest shortened to five innings by the 10-run mercy rule to win a Class 3A substate semifinal. Assumption (25-13) advances to face Central DeWitt in Wednesday’s substate final.
The Knights led the fifth-seeded Clippers 9-1 after the first inning against the team that ended their season in last year’s substate final. CCA closed its season 16-17 with the loss.
Assumption coach Greg Thissen said his team responded in a big way after the Clippers took a 1-0 lead against starting pitcher Keagan Shovlain, who entered the contest 6-0.
“I think these guys have been itching to get another crack at these guys since last year when they sent us home,” Thissen said. “To see them come out and start hitting balls all over the place, really good plate discipline. Super happy with it and super proud of them.”
Assumption lead-off man Max Stein began the game with a double off the outfield fence that nearly left the yard for the small-ball heavy Knights, which had seven straight batters reach toward the end of the opening frame.
Thissen said his hitters stayed disciplined in order to keep the big inning rolling. Outside two doubles from Stein, Assumption had nine singles and seven walks, taking advantage of shaky pitching and defense from CCA. Nine Knights scored runs and seven had RBIs in the win.
The Clippers needed three pitchers just to get through the first inning.
“I think our guys did a really good job of staying in their zone and not extending their zone and going fishing for stuff,” Thissen said. “I thought our guys stayed locked in all day with their plan at the plate. I thought their plate discipline was great. … I thought we really played a complete game today.”
Shovlain will not be available on Wednesday after throwing 102 pitches in 4 ⅓ innings on the mound. He allowed six runs (three earned) and struck out four with three walks before Jackson Wohlers closed it out.
The Knights swept the Sabers 10-4 and 6-2 in the Mississippi Athletic Conference doubleheader June 21. Thissen said the Knights simply focus on their own game, no matter the opponent or location.
“I’m hoping for us to stay locked in and stay right where we are right now,” Thissen said, “and kind of ride this thing through.”