Vikings steamroll Clinton to set up winner-take-all game for division title

Published 8:00 am Thursday, April 12, 2018

The first at-bat can change the entire game, and there’s no better way to send a message than by sending a pitch over the wall for a home run.

That’s exactly what Warren Central’s Vantrel Reed did Tuesday against Clinton. Batting leadoff, Reed set the tone in the bottom of the first inning as the Vikings romped to an important 8-3 victory at Viking Field.

“I like the leadoff spot because I know the fastball is coming nine times out of 10, and pitchers want to get in the zone, and I’m going to attack it and do damage,” said Reed, who reached base three times and scored twice in the game.

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The victory evened the season series between Warren Central (17-7, 7-1 Division 4-6A) and Clinton (15-5, 7-1) at a game apiece. They’ll play again Friday at 7 p.m. at Clinton, with the winner earning the Division 4-6A championship and a first-round bye in the Class 6A playoffs.

“It comes down to Friday night,” WC coach Conner Douglas said. “Tonight’s a big game for us. We played hard, came out of the gate playing hard and dialed in, kind of had the tone set there with Vantrel leading it off with a home run, and the guys competed all night. It was a fun night of baseball.”

In addition to Reed’s big day at the plate, Alan Kivett went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and Hank Holdiness had one hit and two RBIs.

“We swung it really well,” Douglas said. “It was kind of like the last game with them, we hit a lot of balls at them, but they’re very fast, they’re very good defensively. They made the plays. We’d eventually like for those balls to start falling, but we swung it well, we attacked balls like we want to, and we’re just going to keep building from there.”

From the mound, Kivett surrendered two earned runs in five innings, and struck out four. Colin Standish closed out the final two innings and didn’t allow a hit while striking out three.

“Those two guys have thrown absolutely outstanding the whole year,” Douglas said. “Alan Kivett has been great. He throws a lot of strikes and is a competitor. He’s always going to give you a chance to win, and Colin Standish has been phenomenal. He comes in and slams the door. He’s a big-time pitcher for us in big games against good teams, and he continued that tonight, just dominant.”

Warren Central snapped a four-game losing streak against its biggest baseball rival and put itself in position to claim its third division championship in four seasons. Clinton had won the division the two years before that.

Clinton won the first meeting this season, 3-1 on March 27 , on a two-run walk-off home run by Adam Moncure.

“I hate losing to them,” Reed said. “The game boosted our heads up, our confidence went up a little bit. We know they’re a good team, but we just know we’re better than them.”

The Vikings knew how crucial winning the division could be to their state championship hopes.

“The division is big, not only for momentum going into the playoffs and as a confidence thing, but getting that first-round bye, giving some guys some rest, and setting up your bracket a little better than it was having to play that first round,” Douglas said.