Dakota Brown delivered with his bat, and Dalton Zaremba pitched six scoreless innings Monday, and the Smith-Cotton Tigers beat Clinton 1-0 in a West Central Conference baseball game at Liberty Park Stadium-Dey Field.
Brown drove home the only run with a double to left-center field in the fifth. Dom Zerilli drew a bases-loaded walk against Clinton starter Dillon Richardson, dashed to second on an errant pickoff throw by the pitcher and advanced to third on Zaremba’s bunt single down the first-base line.
Brown drilled the first pitch of his at-bat to deep left-center, and Zerilli scored easily for a 1-0 lead.
“Dakota’s really trying to be the guy,” S-C coach Jud Kindle said. “That’s what we’re stressing. We have so much competition around the field right now for positions. We’re looking for someone who wants to be the guy.. .. He’s done a great job the last three or four games for us.”
Zaremba pitched six-plus scoreless innings, allowing five hits, one walk and three strikeouts.
The Cardinals had their best scoring opportunity in the seventh when cleanup batter Brian McCoy doubled down the left-field line to start the inning. That ended Zaremba’s day and brought closer Austin Bullerd into the game.
Jordan Hall failed to get a bunt down and then bunted down the first-base line where first baseman Cody Kozak aggressively charged the ball and turned to throw to Steven Bradbury at first for the first out.
Bullerd then struck out Trent Lankford on three pitchers, and Robinson grounded out to shortstop on a 2-2 pitch to end the game.
“Bully, he closed for me every time time I’ve pitched (this season) — against (St. Pius X) and against Parkview this weekend in Springfield. I had confidence in Bully. I knew with Bully’s sidearm, they weren’t going to be ready for that.”
Kindle was pleased with his pitchers’ performances.
“We had a great pitching performance out of Dalton. He kept the ball down in the zone and threw a lot of strikes. That’s what we wanted out of him today,” Kindle said. “Bullerd came in and shut them down. Pitching wise, we did a great job.”
Zaremba faced a big challenge to start the game. Leadoff batter Zachary Adams singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Richardson’s fly out to center field.
However, Zaremba induced ground outs to shortstop by the next two batters to escape trouble.
The right-hander stranded runners at first and second in the fourth.
Richardson singled to start the inning but was forced out at second on Connor Ford’s fielder’s chose grounder to shortstop. After walking McCoy, Zaremba induced a fly out to center field and a ground out to third to end the inning.
“My two-seam fastball was really working,” Zaremba said. “It had a lot of movement to out, which was really good because all the batters we were facing were on the plate. When they’d start to swing the bat, they’d have to adjust and miss.”
The Tigers had a few opportunities to score. Kozak reached base on an error by the right fielder in the second. Zerilli bunted him to second, and the runner moved to third on Zaremba’s ground out to second. However, starter Richardson got Brown to ground out to second to end the inning.
S-C left runners at second and third with no outs in the fifth inning. Richardson retired the next two batters on ground outs back to the pitcher, and he struck out Chance McMullin to end the threat.
The Tigers threatened to score an insurance run in the sixth. Bradbury drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on two wild pitches. However, when Nick Hagedorn drove a fly ball to right for the first out, Bradbury was thrown out at third after getting caught between bases.
“I’m not going to say it’s the best coaching I’ve ever done,” Kindle said. “We made some mistakes on the base paths. It wasn’t the players. It was my fault.”
Richardson was charged with the loss, allowing one run on three hits with three walks and three strikeouts in five innings.
“His pace was really throwing everybody off,” Zaremba said of Richardson. “He’d stay on the mound maybe five seconds then 10 seconds then three seconds. He had a good fastball that was really moving. It was coming in quick, so everybody had to adjust a little bit.”