In both matchups this season, Clinton has managed to escape Spring Creek’s clutches.
The Dark Horses defeated the Gators 6-5 in eight innings on Tuesday, and on Friday, the Gators held a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh only to watch Clinton score two runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 5-4 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, with two outs, the Gators managed to get the game-winning run on base, but Spring Creek could not complete the comeback, and Clinton escaped “the Swap” with a 5-4 win.
“I just saw a lot of tentativeness and a lot of tentative mistakes. These guys have got to learn how to win,” Spring Creek head coach Heath Whitfield said. “We lost in eight innings to Clinton on Tuesday in pretty much the same way.
“When it gets tight and close like that, we tense up and try not to lose instead of trying to win.”
On the mound, the Gators got a solid performance from Campbell Cunningham, who pitched six and one-thirds innings. He allowed one earned run, five hits, and struck out three Dark Horses.
“I like the way Campbell battled. He pitched his butt off, and he deserved better,” Whitfield said.
Alex Evans’ RBI groundout in the top of the first inning gave Clinton a 1-0 lead, but the Gators tied things up in the bottom of the inning when a wild throw enabled Jackson Lewis to cross home plate.
Clinton’s Miguel Menedez was hit by a pitch to get on base, and he later scored to give Clinton a 2-1 lead in the top of the second.
But thanks to Robert Strickland’s RBI groundout, the Gators made it 2-2 in the bottom of the third inning.
Spring Creek took its first lead of the game in the bottom of fourth when Douglas Davidson stole home.
Clinton tied the game 3-3 in the top of the fifth, but Spring Creek took back the lead in the bottom of the inning.
“We’re not doing the little things,” Whitfield said. “And little things add up to big things every single time, and decent teams are going to take advantage of it.”
With one out on the board, Andrew Crumpler hit a single, thanks to a Clinton fielding error, and Crumpler reached second base,
Rusty Kornegay then entered the game to pinch run for Crumpler, and another Clinton error let Kornegay score a run to give Spring Creek a 4-3 lead.
Both teams did not score any runs in the sixth inning and heading into the seventh. The Gators needed just three outs to seal the victory.
However, Clinton scored two runs in the top of the seventh to take a 5-4 lead. The Gators attempted to stage another rally in the bottom of the seventh.
Down their last out, Cole Honeycutt and David Williams both hit singles. Davidson then stepped up to the plate and carried out a great bunt, but Clinton’s Adam Daw scooped up the ball and threw it to first for the final out of the game.
With only three games left in the season, Whitfield said he wants to see the Gators end the season on a high note and play consistent baseball.
“I just want to see them fight and not pack it in. We have three games left, and a couple of them are winnable games, so I’d like to see them come back and fight and try to get a couple wins before it’s over with,” Whitfield said.