Clinton Central’s varsity baseball team clinched the school’s first sectional title since 2005 on Monday evening when they defeated Rossville High School, 6-2.
A mixture of timely runs and precision pitching by Clinton Central’s JT Holton lifted the Bulldogs to excellence after the senior pitcher struck out 11 batters in seven innings while only allowing five hits in the victory.
Clinton Central head coach Andrew Quinn praised his team’s level-headedness after taking an early lead while also crediting the pitching from JT Holton.
“We got a lead early which is big. It’s what I wanted from us because I knew JT (Holton) was going to go out there with his best stuff,” Quinn said. “I told them in the seventh inning, forget the score and act like we need to put some runs up and they answered as well as they could have.”
The momentum swung Clinton Central’s way early on when JT Holton hit a two-run homer to left field for the first runs of the game.
Rossville cut into the Bulldog’s early lead after a line drive to left field from Evan Price put the Hornets on the board.
Hornets head coach Brad Scott tipped his cap to CC’s Holton while expressing pride in the fight that his team showed throughout the game.
“Holton came out, and he was sharp. He threw really well, and we hung him a curve ball in the first inning and he made us pay for it. … I thought our guys stayed the course and continued to fight and ultimately, they bust it open there in the seventh and we couldn’t get anything going,” he said.
Holton led the charge from the batter’s box with two hits and three RBIs along with his dominance on the pitching mound.
After a fly ball to center field from Clinton Central’s Matthew Harker in the top of the fourth, Rossville continued to keep pace with the Bulldogs when a grounder from Reid Douglas narrowed the Hornet’s deficit to one.
Douglas led the Hornets with one hit and one RBI while a trio made up of Douglas, Braden Marlin and Evan Price combined to strike out 12 batters in the loss.
Offensively, Quinn believed it was all about his team’s ability to be selective with their pitches when in the batter’s box.
“I think we were swinging at good pitches. We did a job of being selective, and we were hunting fastballs all day. … In that last inning, we got lucky with some walks and free bases but we kept the pressure on them with our offense and that paid dividends for us today,” Quinn said.
Rossville’s score in the fifth inning was their last as the Bulldog’s defense held firm for the remainder of the game.
Clinton Central kept their foot on the gas when they were up to bat in the seventh, putting the game away with three runs.
A single from Holton followed by a grounder to left field from Owen Kochur made up the lump sum of Clinton Central’s final offensive highlights as they shut the door on a Rossville comeback and ended the game with a 6-2 final.
Finally, Quinn credited his senior class for the way they have been able to lay the foundation of what is now the culmination of a four-year success story.
“It’s all credit to the players,” Quinn said. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for these guys. Honestly, the program is in a great spot because these seniors are leaving the program so much better than when they got here. That’s all I can ask for is to leave it better than you found it.”
BULLDOGS 6, HORNETS 2