CLARINDA — A funny thing happened during the fourth inning of the nightcap of the Atlantic vs. Clarinda game Thursday night.
The scoreboard malfunctioned briefly.
For a brief time, fans just driving by or arriving at the game may have thought the Cardinals put up a huge rally to go from down by eight runs to surge ahead 12-10.
Fortunately for the Trojans — 17-1 on the season and ranked seventh in Iowa Class 3A — that wasn’t nearly the case.
Instead, the visitors were the ones doing (almost) all the scoring, pushing across six runs in the second and seven in the fifth to come away with the 17-2 rout of the Cardinals.
The first game was close ... maybe too close for comfort for the Trojans, as they had to push across the tie-breaking run in the top of the seventh and then ride the pitching arm of Olivia Engler to a 3-2 victory.
Another sweep of a Hawkeye Ten Conference foe, the wins keep the Trojans perfect in nine starts this season in the league and on track to defend their conference title.
“Lack of discipline at the plate, basically,” said coach Terry Hinzmann of the first game. “You’re going to see different types of pitchers ... during the season and we just didn’t make any adjustments up and down the lineup the first couple of times through.”
It wasn’t their “A” game for sure, but the offense they generated in the end proved to be enough to push back an upset-minded Clarinda squad.
Alyssa Derby pounded her fifth home run of the season, a two-run shot in the second inning to break a scoreless tie. The Cardinals got their offense going and scratched across single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
But in a game where defenses held firm, it was the Cardinals who finally bent in the seventh, and Karsyn Rush and Baylee Newell took advantage.
Rush reached on a two-out error when the throw from third landed in the dirt, and Newell’s RBI double easily put up the unearned run. Engler held on with three straight strikeouts to pick up the first of her two wins on the night.
“Olivia pitched amazing and kept us in the ballgame,” said Hinzmann of the Game 1 performance by his ace. She had 13 strikeouts on the evening, including seven in Game 1, while giving up just nine hits all night. “As ugly as it might be we end up with a win, ugly as it might be.”
The nightcap was interesting only because of the brief scoreboard snafu. On the field, it was nowhere close.
A six-run second inning set the tone, with Engler’s two-run RBI double combining with single-RBI hits by Rush and Newell. After a three-spot in the top of the fourth, the Trojans went on a seven-run tear in the fifth, with Reagan Pellett’s two-run RBI being the big blow.
“We had to have a wakeup call and reset our focus,” said Hinzmann. “We did that ... and learned to be disciplined at the plate and that showed on the scoreboard.”
The Trojans pounded out 13 hits, two each by Newell and Rush. Lauren Nicholas ended with three RBIs on the night, including two in the fourth.
Atlantic is spending the weekend at the prestigious Fort Dodge Invitational, a 16-team tournament both today and Saturday. The Trojans open up the four-game stand with Class 5A (and always a perennial power) Muscatine.