River Rats open Clanton Tournament with a rout
By Brett Cady
By Brett Cady
The Southwest Kansas River Rats proved that they could play a ball game quite a bit cleaner than their mascot would suggest on Thursday night at Clint Lightner Stadium.
With a five-inning routing of Hugoton in the opening game of the 24th annual Clanton Memorial Tournament, the River Rats walked off the diamond with an end score of 24-4.
It all began with a deceiving 1-1 score at the end of the first inning. Optimistic cheers were being called out from fans of both Hugoton and the River Rats as they moved on from the close first inning.
The River Rats baseball team quickly took control, however, by crossing six runs in the top of the second.
The Rats took advantage of an error, a couple of walks and clubbed a couple more singles to put the lopsided number on the board.
"I thought we did a good job of putting pressure on 'em," River Rat head coach Neal Baker said after the game. "I thought they dropped their heads, and were hurting pretty hard when they started making errors. That's uncharacteristic of this Hugoton team. I've been playing against those guys for quite a few years, and I've never seen them do that."
In the third inning, Hugoton managed to put up two runs to the River Rats' one, leaving the deficit at five.
The roles flipped in the fourth inning with River Rats again putting their bats to work, sending balls right back up the middle. Finally, a double scored the final two runs in the inning and the Rats had a 11-4 lead.
"Everybody hit the ball," Baker said. "I'm not sure if everybody on the team didn't get an RBI off a base hit."
In the fifth inning, the River Rats decided it was time to end the game, when 10 of the 11 players for the River Rats managed to cross the home plate in the fifth inning with a few scoring twice in the inning. This gave the River Rats their final 24-run count.
A clean inning from the River Rats in the bottom of the fifth ended the game by run-rule.
"I was pretty proud of our boys for staying with good sportsmanship and just keep battling," Baker said. "This is a pretty competitive tournament. We've got some older kids on our team, and this is about the third year we've got these kids together from three or four different towns, and I think they want to perform pretty good in this tournament."
Baker said that he is planning to see some challenging games from Colorado teams and the 15-2 GC Elite.
Hugoton returns to the diamond at 3 p.m. today at Williams Stadium against Butler County, while the River Rats play at Clint Lightner at 3 p.m. against Lamar.
SW Kansas 161 3(13) -- 24
Hugoton 102 10 -- 4
Nate. Sutton. 2B--SW Kansas, Andrew, Trevor, AJ. 3B--SW Kansas, Trevor.