The Clinton Maroons needed just one opportunity to strike and took advantage in getting by the Urbana Tigers 1-0 Monday afternoon from Evans Field at Clinton High School in Class 3A boys baseball quarter-final regional action.
A scoreless game through five and a half innings with almost zero breathing room for both squads was highlighted by a pair of terrific pitching performances.
Maroons senior right-hander Nolan Hickman was a defensive play better than Urbana sophomore starter Luke Stephens.
Hickman allowed the first two Urbana batters of the game to reach baseby issuing a walk and an early error. Follwing a pop out to shallow right-center, Hickman got the Tigers clean up hitter, Trey King, to ground to third and the Maroons turned an inning-ending double play.
From there the Urbana Tigers would do little to challenge the Maroons senior until the last inning as Hickman sat down 15 of the next 16 batters.
The Maroons also did little to challenge Stephens. The sophomore was brilliant through five innings, allowing just four base runners in five innings but ran into trouble in the sixth inning.
A lead off single by Nolan Hickman was followed by a passed ball that allowed Hickman to move up and an error allowed him to reach third, putting runners at the corners with no outs.
With runners at second and third, a Christian Hunt fly ball to center was deep enough to score Hickman from third for the go-ahead and the eventual winning run, but a base running blunder by a pinch runner at second cut down an insurance run for a double-play.
Leading 1-0, a leadoff two-base error for Caleb Ross was followed by a one-out throwing error by Hickman to second base, and Ross was at third with one away as the tying run.
Hickman struck the next two Urbana batters and wrapped up a complete game, 1-0 shutout.
Hickman finished the afternoon allowing one hit, issued a walk and struck out 12.
Stephens went six innings allowing an unearned run on five hits with no walks and four strike outs.
The Maroons are now 7-19 overall and take on Champaign Central at the Champaign Central Regional Wednesday at 4:30 pm.
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