Baseball: Middle inning surge helps Clintonville past Wittenberg

Cartwright has big game at plate, on mound for Diamond Cats

By Morgan Rode

Leader Photo by Morgan Rode Clintonville’s Jared Cartwright delivers a pitch during the first inning of Friday’s Legion contest in Wittenberg.

Leader Photo by Morgan Rode Wittenberg’s Michael Gibson II, left, slides safely into home behind Clintonville catcher Brock Smejkal during the fourth inning of Friday’s Legion contest in Wittenberg.

The Clintonville Legion baseball team came through with several clutch hits in the middle innings and got a strong start on the mound from Jared Cartwright to earn an 8-3 victory over Wittenberg on Friday in Wittenberg.

After allowing a first-inning run, Cartwright tossed a pair of scoreless innings before the Diamond Cats scored twice in the fourth to take a 2-1 lead.

Wittenberg responded with two runs in its half of the fourth to regain the lead, but Clintonville took the lead for good in the fifth with a four-run frame. The Diamond Cats added two insurance runs in the sixth to seal its win.

“Confidence, it’s something we’ve been lacking all year with the varsity team,” said Clintonville coach Randy Finger on what helped the team deliver at the plate in the middle innings. “We just needed that kick tonight to get that confidence going — in the first three innings, we didn’t get that timely hit. Hitting is contagious and we took off.”

Cartwright picked up the win after striking out nine batters over six innings. After surrendering runs in the first and fourth, he bounced back by throwing two scoreless frames.

Colton Kluth struck out the final two batters of the game after walking a pair to seal up Clintonville’s win.

Wittenberg’s Bryce Zoromski singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch to give the hosts the early advantage in the first inning.

After putting runners on in each of the first three innings, the Diamond Cats finally cashed in during the fourth.

Trent Vollmer and Cartwright each hit singles to open the inning. Vollmer would come around to score on a single from Klay Finger. Nate Morse, Cartwright’s courtesy runner, scored on a groundout from Brock Smejkal.

Wittenberg countered with two runs the next half inning.

Michael Gibson II walked to open the inning and ended up scoring on an infield grounder by Matt Kapitz. Kapitz would later score on a two-out single by Will Urquhart.

After Wittenberg starter Shane Herb was removed from the game, Clintonville pounced on a pair of relievers to pull away.

Matt Morse scored the first of four Diamond Cat runs in the fifth, crossing the plate on a double by Presley Rosenow.

Cartwright delivered a two-RBI single to plate Kluth and Vollmer before an infield single from Smejkal allowed courtesy runner Nathan Morse to score.

“The team just got mentally locked in as the game went on,” Kluth said. “All it took was a couple good at-bats and hits and then we really started to hit the ball well. Once one person succeeds, we all feed off that success and click…”

The top of Clintonville’s order pushed across two more runs in the sixth. Rosenow came through with a RBI single to score Matt Morse before Logan Liesenfelder scored on an error.

Unlike Clintonville, Wittenberg wasn’t able to come through with the clutch hits to mount a comeback.

“We just couldn’t seem to string together a couple of hits in a row the whole game,” said Wittenberg coach Dan Kapitz. “We had some hits and baserunners here and there, but nothing like two, three hits, maybe a walk, a passed ball. It was nothing strung together.”

Herb struck out three batters over his four innings on the hill. Kody Szews and Urquhart combined to finish the game, striking out three batters over that stretch.