Despite the somewhat sluggish play, North Clay put the game out of reach in the sixth, ahead 6-3, when Clifton rocketed a deep ball over the left-field fence on the first pitch of his at-bat, extending the lead to four. Cox plated his second run off an RBI single again to right field, and Micklautz scored on an Oblong throwing error to cap the North Clay scoring.
The Panthers scored two in the top of the seventh off a two-run souvenir shot from Koert Mehler, but it was not enough. Cox entered the game to relieve starter Nick McKnelly with one out on the board, and struck out the next two batters to close the game and preserve the 9-5 win.
McKnelly pitched 6.1 innings with ten hits allowed and six strikeouts.
“Nick kept us right in there, “ Frech said. “He gave up ten hits, that’s uncharacteristic of him, but a win’s a win.”
North Clay advanced to Saturday’s regional final game with the victory, where the Cardinals will take on Cumberland with a regional crown on the line.
“We’re excited about it,” Frech said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s one of the things we were looking forward to this year.”
Oblong 020 100 2 5 10 2
North Clay 302 112 x 9 14 1
WP - McKnelly LP - Rogers
Oblong: Meese (2 1B); Mehler (1B, 2 R HR, 2 RBI); Jones (2 1B); Midgett (2 R HR, 2 RBI); Rogers (1B); Goodwin (2 1B).
North Clay: Britton (2 1B); Micklautz (1B, RBI); Cox (2 1B, 2 RBI); Hilderbrand (2 1B); Clifton (2 1B, HR, 3 RBI); Walker (1B, 2B, 2 RBI); McKnelly (1B); McNeely (1B).