DUBLIN — Clinton came to The Castle on Friday and backed West Bladen’s six-game winning streak into a corner. But the Knights fought back with 10 runs over two innings and a stellar pitching performance by Scott Bowen in relief to send the Dark Horses home with a 15-8 Four County Conference loss.
The win improved West Bladen to 7-3 overall and 5-0 in the conference.
Knights starting pitcher Ian Sykes dug himself a hole in the first frame with three straight walks and a West Bladen error helped Clinton to take a 2-0 lead. The Dark Horses took advantage of a hit batter and another error in the second inning to open a 3-0 advantage.
The Knights got a run back in the bottom of the second when Bowen reached second on an error, went to third on a wild pitch and and scored on an RBI single by Sykes.
Trey Storms relieved Sykes just two batters into the third after Clinton got a single and hit batter. Storms gave up a bunt single that loaded the bases and, after two strikeouts, a single plated two runs for a 5-1 lead.
West Bladen answered with three runs in the home half of the third when Jarrett Williams walked with two outs and went to second on a wild pitch, Trent West reached on a wind-blown single and both runners scored on a triple to deep right-center by Bowen. A wild pitch brought Bowen home to close the deficit to 5-4.
Clinton scored three times in the fourth, all against Storms, who came out when he couldn’t lock down the third out. Bowen came on and fanned the one hitter he faced in the inning to stop the bleeding, but the Dark Horses were up, 8-4.
The Knights scored a run in the bottom of the inning when Logan West reached on an error, went to second on a walk to Jonathan Ashworth, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball.
Bowen gave up just a single in the fifth to shut Clinton down for the first inning of the game, and the Knights came back with three more runs in the bottom of the inning — batting around and getting an RBI single from Logan West, an RBI on an error off the bat of Hunter Pait and a run on a wild pitch to knot the game at 8-8.
In the top of the sixth, Bowen mowed the Dark Horses down on a three straight strikeouts, which pumped up the West Bladen crowd, coaches and players. The ripple effect was seven runs getting scored by the Knights in the bottom of the sixth for a 15-8 lead. West Bladen sent 11 batters to the plate and got a three-run triple by Tent West, RBI single by Bowen, an RBI by T.J. Guyton on a bases-loaded hit batter and an RBI single by Williams.
Bowen then closed out the game, giving up just a walk and single in the seventh to earn the win. Bowen went 3.1 innings, gave up no runs on two hits, one walk and five strikeouts.
“Scott came on and threw strikes, which is what we needed,” West Bladen coach Kim Cain said. “We made some errors early and weren’t swinging the bats well, but it all came together in the fifth and sixth innings.”
Bowen also led the Knights at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a triple and two RBI. Trent West was 2-for-4 with a triple and four RBI, while Pait had two RBI and the foursome of Guyton, Williams, Logan West and Sykes each had an RBI.
West Bladen will travel to Dunn on Tuesday for a conference showdown with Midway at 7 p.m.
W. Curt Vincent cane be reached by calling 910-862-4163.