AMBOY – A big deficit apparently means very little to the cardiac Clippers.
For the second time in two games, Amboy erased a six-run deficit, this time against Riverdale on the way to a 7-6 victory on Monday in the Three Rivers opener for both squads. The Clippers also came back from a 6-0 hole against Mendota in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday to pull out an 8-7 win.
"We have eight seniors out there," Amboy coach Chris Newsome said, "so these types of games, I kind of expect to pull it out in the end just because they've been through that ringer before. They really pulled through today."
Amboy (3-1) scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning in somewhat bizarre fashion to complete its latest comeback. Nate Rinard led off by reaching on an error, the Rams' sixth of the day, and Spencer Johnson followed with a walk.
Johnson was erased on a fielder's choice grounder by Jackson Sorrells, but Tyson Powers followed with an RBI double to score Rinard. Sorrells then came home when Riverdale relief pitcher Nathan Rocker was called for a controversial balk.
Riverdale manager Brian Krier called for a timeout from the dugout, and Rocker stopped his motion. Newsome successfully argued the pitcher's motion had started before the timeout had been granted, after the umpires initially had talked about waiving the balk call.
"He was saying, 'I'll eat that one. That's my mistake,'" Newsome said. "No. That mistake would cost us a run."
With two outs and Powers on third, the Clippers' No. 5 hitter, Bailey Appleman, laced a game-tying triple into the left-center gap that narrowly eluded the glove of Riverdale center fielder Jason Hoehn. It was on a 3-2 pitch, and Appleman hit it on a line.
"I was ready to take whatever and send it the other way," Appleman said. "I knew it was in the gap, but I thought [Hoehn] was going to catch it. He got pretty close to it, but it got past him."
That brought up Drew Fordham, who was 2-for-2 with a walk at that point. During Fordham's fourth at-bat, Rocker went to his mouth to moisten his fingers, but did not wipe the moisture off on his uniform – something that was covered in a pre-game meeting. A balk was called, and pinch-runner Jason Bontz trotted home with the go-ahead run.
Krier wasn't wild about either of the balk calls.
"As far as the balks go, it is what it is, and you've got to deal with it," Krier said.
In the top of the seventh, Amboy starter Taylor Ikens issued a one-out walk to pinch hitter Cody Garber, but the game ended when the next batter, Dalton Peterson, hit a screaming liner into the glove of Clippers first baseman Reece Howell. Garber was easily doubled off first base.
Ikens (1-1) withstood a rocky first inning in which Riverdale scored four runs to go the distance. He finished with 123 pitches, and only half of the Rams' runs were earned.
"I'm checking him from the fourth inning on, because he's going to be our bulldog down the stretch," Newsome said of Ikens. "If he wants the ball and he says he's good, I won't go against him. He's our guy, so I'm going to roll with him."
Star of the game: Tyson Powers, Amboy, 3-for-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI
Key performers: Bailey Appleman, Amboy, 2-for-4, GW 3B; Jason Hoehn, Riverdale, 2-for-3, 2B, 2 R, RBI
Up next: Milledgeville at Amboy (2), 4 p.m. today