The Abilene Rebels baseball team traveled to Clay Center last Thursday for a makeup doubleheader and came away with a split. The Rebels lost the opener, letting it get away late, 5-2, but came back to take the nightcap 14-8.
In the opener, Clay Center got on the scoreboard first with a run in its half of the first inning when the leadoff batter reached on a single and later scored. The Rebels mustered only a couple of base runners through the first three innings as Stewart Scott was hit by a pitch in the second and Ben Short singled in third. Clay Center didn’t do much better offensively, also only getting a couple of base runners in the second inning and going down in order in the third.
In the fourth inning Abilene got going a bit offensively as Kaden Coup led off with a walk, Carter Taplin doubled, Robbie Keener singled to drive in a pair, and Roman Sanchez doubled. Keener and Sanchez were stranded. Clay Center went down in order, and Abilene led 2-1 after four.
The fifth inning proved pivotal in the contest, as the Rebels got a single from Coup, but that would be all. Clay Center got its first two hitters on base with a single and a walk and both ended up scoring. With two outs in the inning, it looked like Abilene would get out of the inning with a strikeout, but the pitch was called a ball on a 3-2 count as a few Abilene players started to come off the field. The next two batters doubled to give Clay Center a 5-2 lead.
Abilene got a walk from Sanchez in the sixth inning, but that would be it as the other three outs came via strikeouts. Clay Center sent three to the plate in its half of the inning and the Rebels went down in order via strikeouts in the seventh to end the game at 5-2.
“We came out a little flat in this one, after coming off a couple of intense games just two nights ago where we played well,” said Abilene coach Billy Hansen. “That pitch in the fifth inning that wasn’t called a strike, that looked like a strike to us, for the third out was big. We would have been down by one instead of three. But we didn’t score another run anyway, but I think it affected us a bit mentally.”
On the mound for Abilene, Keener went the distance, striking out five, walked three, hit a batter, allowed five hits, and five earned runs. Offensively for the Rebels, Coup was 1-2 with a run scored and a walk. Sanchez went 1-2 with a walk. Keener was 1-3 with two RBI. Taplin went 1-3 with a run scored, and Short was 1-3.
In the nightcap the Rebels got off to a better start by scoring six runs in their first at-bat. McClanahan led off by reaching on an error, Coup singled and scored, Taplin walked and scored, Keener singled to drive in a run, Sanchez and Scott each walked and scored on passed balls. Short also singled in the inning as Abilene sent all 10 in their lineup to the plate.
Clay Center got back in the game in the bottom of the first by scoring two runs on two hits, a walk, and a hit batter. The Rebels kept things rolling in the second inning as McClanahan led off with a walk, Coup singled, and Taplin hit a triple to deep center to drive in a pair. Sanchez hit a one-out single to drive in Taplin for the third run of the inning. Scott also singled, but was stranded. Clay Center went down in order in the inning.
The third inning didn’t see any scoring, but Abilene continued to hit the ball. Short and Kellen Signer both hit the ball hard but flew out to centerfield. McClanahan walked, Coup doubled, and Taplin walked but the bases were left loaded as Keener also flew out to center.
The Rebels added a run in the fourth inning when Sanchez led off with a single, Samuel Burton hit a one-out single, and Short hit a two-out single to drive in a run. The home team also scored a run in the fourth after a walk, an error, and a single. The Rebels led 10-3 after four.
In the fifth inning, Abilene padded its lead with four runs on one out as Coup singled, Keener hit a two-out double to drive in Coup, Sanchez and Scott walked, and Burton doubled to drive in three. Ayden Taylor followed with a single but was stranded with Burton.
Clay Center made things interesting, with a little help from Abilene, in what would be their final at-bat due to time limit. The home team scored four runs on just two hits, two walks, two hit batters, and two errors. Burton came on in relief and got a ground ball from the first batter he faced, but a throwing error at second allowed everyone to be safe. Then came another throwing error on the bases. That was followed by a little blooper in the shallow right field, and then a hit batter. A strikeout followed. McClanahan, Abilene’s catcher then threw a strike to Keener at third to pick-off the runner for out number two. Burton then struck out the batter to end the game. The Rebels got the win 14-8 to likely end their season.
“It was nice to see us rebound and come out ready to go in this one, knowing it could be our last game of this crazy season,” said Hansen. “Carter pitched fairly well through four innings before getting in a little trouble in the fifth. Sam (Burton) was able to close it out finally. Roman had a nice game, if this is it for his career. It was nice of Clay Center to recognize him in between games, along with their players who were playing their final game.”
Offensively for Abilene, Coup was 4-4 with three runs scored. Sanchez went 2-2 with three runs scored, two walks, and two RBI in what could be his final baseball game for Abilene. Taplin was 1-2 with two runs scored, two walks, and two RBI. Scott went 1-2 with two runs scored, two walks, and a RBI. Burton was 2-4 with three RBI. Keener went 2-4 with two runs scored and two RBI. Short was 2-4 with a RBI, and Taylor went 1-4.
On the mound for the Rebels, Taplin got the start in going four innings, striking out six, walked four, hit three batters, allowed four hits, and seven earned runs. Burton came on in relief in the fifth, striking out two, walked none, hit a batter, allowed one hit, and no earned runs.
“I would like to thank Roman, and his family, for his years of contribution to our program. We will miss him, and wish him the best in his future. I would also like to thank all of our player’s parents, Stacey and Brian Combes for keeping score at our home games, Abilene Parks and Recreation, and the Abilene Baseball Club, for everything during these trying times. It was nice for us to be able to play some baseball” Hansen said.
Abilene finishes their schedule with a 9-11 record.