“We didn’t do what we were supposed to,” Frech said. “Our outfielders got burned on some balls.”
Hunter Clifton first got the Cardinals on the board in the second with his bomb that easily cleared the center field wall. The deep shot was a 3-run homer that cut the Lions lead to one after two innings.
On a frigid Wednesday afternoon where the temperature dipped well below 30 degress, the Cardinals’ pitchers struggled to find control. Tied at 4 after Hilderbrand hit a solo shot over the center field wall in the bottom of inning four, Edwards County busted the game open, at least momentarily, in the fifth.
Walker was relieved in favor of Nick McKnelly, who was put in a tough situation with runners on the corners and no outs. McKnelly walked his first two batters and hit his third, bringing home two runs. Nathan Utley plated two more with a double, and Cowling’s sac bunt brought Utley home two batters later. Edwards County tallied one more run for their sixth of the inning on an error, bringing the score to a 10-4 mark.
“That was kind of a thorn there,” Frech said. “We’ve got to be held accountable. Our pitching was not great.”
McKnelly was much improved from there, however, not allowing a run in the final two frames as the North Clay offense attempted its comeback.
Ahead 10-5, Utley took over on the mound for Edwards County in the sixth and began with two straight walks to Clifton and Walker. Dylan Bailey drove in Clifton on a double that cut the lead to four, and Lawson Britton plated another. Suddenly it became just a three-run ballgame.
In their last at-bats, Adam Cox and Hilderbrand singled to put two runners on the bags and the tying run at the plate. Nate Micklautz was walked immediately thereafter, before Clifton brought home his fourth and final run of the game on a sacrifice hit to right field, making it a two-run game.