WELLINGTON — Baseball can be a cruel game.
Clearview had Wellington on the ropes with an eight-run lead going to the bottom of the third, but the Clippers defense imploded with nine errors over the next three innings as the Dukes rallied for a 10-9 win in a Patriot Athletic Conference crossover game at Wellington Community Park.
“We’ll never win a game if we can’t catch the darn ball,” Clearview coach Dennis Philblad said. “We have to be able to make the routine plays, because if you don’t the pitcher’s pitch count is going way up, and you are going to have a long day letting a team get back in the game.”
The Clippers (2-3, 1-3) staked themselves to the big lead with four runs in the first inning and two in each of the next two innings. They chased Wellington starter Caleb Teague in the second.
Kuly Petrov, Kian Ortiz and Avery Cruz reached to start the game, with the first two scoring when Cruz dropped down a sacrifice bunt and the ball was thrown down the right-field line.
Cruz came home on a passed ball and Julian Mendez drove home Josaih Moon with the fourth run. Only a great throw by center fielder Mason McClellan to get a runner at home kept the damage from being worse.
Tyler Green and Petrov started the second with walks, bringing sophomore reliever Jacob Evans in from second base.
Cruz and Martinez greeted Evans with run-scoring hits as Clearview upped its lead to 6-0.
Ortiz ran the lead to 8-0, driving in Mendez and Petrov with a two-out single to left for what seemed to be a safe cushion.
The Wellington comeback started with six runs in the third, only two earned. The only RBIs recorded in the inning came when Nick Laposky was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and a pair of fielder’s choices off the bats of Teague and Drew Unangst.
The Dukes added one in the fourth when Ben Bliss singled, moved up on two errors and came home on a single by Ben Higgins.
Wellington finished the comeback by getting three more in the fifth inning. Brinkman doubled and Wyatt Sasack walked, and they came home on Evans’ single through the left side. He eventually scored on the Clippers’ ninth error.
After giving up two runs in the third, Evans settled in and shut down the Clippers for three straight innings in picking up his first win of the season.
“I just knew coming in that I had to try to keep them from scoring,” Evans said. “Even though we were down big, I knew we could come back. This team doesn’t roll over for anyone and we are going to do everything we can to stay in the game.”
Clearview had one last gasp of offense in the seventh when Nate Kramer scored on a Mendez single, but Evans got the final out on a fly ball to center as the Dukes improved to 6-1 overall, 4-0 in the PAC.
“Hitting is contagious and making errors can be contagious — we had both of those going our way today,” Wellington coach Roger Sasack said. “We just needed to keep being tough outs and keep putting the ball in play. They gave us some extra outs and we were able to take advantage of the miscues.”