The levees wavered for Clinton, but never broke.
Despite loading the bases twice, the big inning eluded Smith-Cotton’s baseball team Friday at Liberty Park.
The Tigers sunk Clinton with one run per inning in the second, fifth and sixth innings in a 3-2 victory Friday on senior night.
Jake McFail scored Landon Dove for the go-ahead run in the sixth on a line drive over the first baseman. Dove led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error.
McFail’s RBI single came after he swung himself into an 0-2 count. He said he would have preferred to be more patient.
“I got a little ahead of myself, and swung at a couple bad pitches,” McFail said. “That got me down early, but I was happy I could fight out of that.”
The trio of Clinton pitchers, starter Gerhig Taylor, Vincent Crispi and Jack Schmedding, were stingy with runners on base. Schmedding caught McFail in a rundown after allowing the single.
“It was a quick turn of events,” McFail said.
Dalton Zaremba allowed two runs in 6.1 innings starting for Smith-Cotton. He struck out five batters and tied the game at two in the fifth inning, scoring on a wild pitch.
Zaremba said the opposing pitchers held runners well, and was glad to capitalize on a rare mistake.
“I was just making sure I got a good jump,” Zaremba said. “All of them had good moves. So each time you got on base, every player had to be on their toes or else something bad was going to happen.”
Roberto Ramirez shut the door on Clinton in the sixth after the Cardinals’ leadoff runner singled and advanced on a sacrifice bunt.
Clinton scored two runs in the third on four consecutive 2-out hits. Christian Jones doubled home Trey Miller and Schmedding hit Jones home with a single.
The Tigers celebrated the graduation of 12 seniors after the game. Nearly all of them said their favorite baseball memory was a March trip to Orlando for the Florida League High School Invitational.
McFail said it was “cool” to finish a career with near-lifelong friends.
“Most of us grew up playing together 6-, 7-U,” McFail said, referencing youth league designations. “We’ve got some good team chemistry, and we all love each other.”
Smith-Cotton hosts O’Hara today at 10 a.m.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2