Cougar steals home to trip up Cardinals

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CLINTON, Wis. - If you thought Clinton's 12-11 victory over Brodhead Tuesday afternoon was unconventional, you should've seen the way Thursday's game between the two teams ended.

With the game tied 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning and the bases loaded, Clinton baserunner Jason Brewer left third base and sprinted toward home plate.

Evan Ruplinger got a high fastball from Brodhead pitcher Marco Bueno and was unable to get the squeeze bunt down.

No matter. According to the home plate umpire, Brewer beat the tag of the Brodhead catcher, which made the ensuing collision and dropped ball irrelevant.

The Cougars had won, 5-4, marking their second straight victory after a tough start to the season.

"Games like these are huge for us," Clinton coach Marc Montez said. "To get some victories and build that confidence early in the season is really important. It gives you that motivation to show up every day, because baseball is kind of a grind, especially with the weather we've had lately."

Colin Warpula went two-plus innings and allowed three runs (two earned) before giving way to Brady Beals, who rebounded from a tough start Monday against Whitewater by picking up the win after throwing five innings and allowing just one unearned run.

Clinton broke a 3-3 tie with a run in the fifth, only to see the Cardinals come back with a run in the sixth to tie the score.

Brewer, who went 4-for-4, cracked a one-out single to start the decisive rally. Jordan Hendricks singled to push Brewer to third, and the Cards walked Drew Holloway to load the bases, setting up Ruplinger and the eventual winning steal.

Ruplinger got ahead in the count 2-1 before Montez gave the signal.

"When he got up in the count, we knew he was going to have to throw a fastball and have to throw a strike," Montez said.

Brewer said he was counting on the squeeze sign to come through.

"I wanted to get as big of a lead as I could off third base," Brewer said. "And once it's time to go, you gotta go. We went for it in that situation and it worked out for us."

The Cougars will host Rock Valley Conference power Jefferson Friday.

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