Wednesday's doubleheader against Fergus Falls at Mills Field stood out for Central Lakes College Raiders sophomore Darren Prom for more than one reason.
The former St. Cloud Tech player had never played when it was 30 degrees and snowing. But he led his team to two victories, 3-1 and 5-4 over the Spartans, which catapulted the Raiders to the top of the MCCC North Division.
"I've never played in a game like this; I've never played in a game with snow on the ground," said Prom, whose team is now 6-0 in the division and 8-2 overall. "It was pretty interesting. It was tough to see out there, it was tough to stay warm and it was tough to stay in it mentally. I just tried to stay loose as best as I could and tried to stay focused on the game."
Even though it was something new for Prom, he played as though it wasn't. He drove in the winning run in the top of the seventh inning in the second game and picked up the pitching win in relief. He also recorded an RBI in the first game.
After 3 1/2 hours of being camped out in the freezing weather at his third base spot, Prom came on in relief in the sixth inning, inheriting two runners and no outs. He got out of that jam with limited damage, but the Spartans managed to tie the game 4-4.
CLC's Nic Hanson led off the top of the seventh by laying down a bunt that he not only beat out for a single but also moved on to second when the Spartans first baseman couldn't handle the throw. Mike Innes then grounded out to first base, advancing Hanson to third where he would score the eventual winning run on Prom's infield single.
In the seventh Prom then allowed runners to reach second and third with one out before sewing up the victory by forcing two consecutive groundouts.
"I just wanted to challenge them and make sure I threw strikes," said Prom, who stayed primarily with his fastball. "I had a base open so I knew I could challenge them a little bit. I could set up a double play if I needed to. I tried a curve but it didn't work. I didn't have very much stuff today."
Nathan Heim threw the first five innings, allowing two runs on five hits and continually managed to weave his way out of trouble.
"(Heim) hung in there and stayed tough and you can't ask for more than that," CLC coach Warren Mertens said. " "But it's nice to know (Prom's) available and we can count on him as a stopper. Our starters are doing a great job getting us to the later innings. Prom can come in and clean it up and it gives the starters confidence."
At the plate in the second game, Darren Prom was 2-for-3 with a run scored, Heim was 2-for-3, Prom was 2-for-4 and Derek Owen was 1-for-2 with a 390-foot, two-run home run over the left field fence in the first inning.
CLC 3, Fergus Falls 1
The first game was the Litke show.
The sophomore from Onamia High School tossed a complete game, allowing only one unearned run on seven hits. He recorded six strikeouts, walked one batter and hit one.
"Everything was working," said Litke, whose ERA dipped under 2.00. "It was a pitcher's day; it wasn't a hitter's day. My arm felt good today and the batters can't see good because of the snow."
Mertens said he could see after the first inning it was going to be a pitchers' duel. Litke retired his first three batters and Fergus Falls' starter Darin Gronwold struck out two of the first four Raiders.
"I knew there wasn't going to be a lot of runs scored," Mertens said. "The cold weather makes the batters tight. The only guy on the field that is loose is the pitcher from the work they're doing on the mound. The fielders can't stay loose. I was just thinking, 'Try to get on the board first.'"
The Raiders did so, with all three of their runs in the second inning. Nate Huber led off with a base hit and Eric Lins tried to sacrifice him to second, but ended up on base via a throwing error. Hanson moved them to second and third with a successful sacrifice. Justin Durham then loaded the bases when he was hit by a pitch. Mike Innes then delivered a soft liner to right-center to score two runs. Prom gave the Raiders a 3-0 lead with an RBI single.
"What a couple of wins," said Mertens, whose team is now two games up on Fergus Falls (4-2) in the division. "Those were really big. It makes a statement that we're here. We have to let all these teams know we can play."
Said Litke: "It was our goal to be undefeated, win every single game. Fergus Falls is always tough. We have no players hitting .800 and nobody's hitting .200. Everybody's at .300 or .400. Everybody's stepping up different games.
"The biggest thing has been the whole team. It's the two, three, four hitters one game and the next game it's the seven, eight, nine hitters. It's always somebody different."
Fergus Falls 000 000 1 -- 1 7 1
CLC 030 000 0 -- 3 4 2
Fergus Falls -- Darin Gronwold and Kellen Shebeck. CLC -- Reggie Litke and Derek Owen. WP -- Litke (1-0). LP -- Gronwold.
Fergus Falls 001 102 0 -- 4 8 3
CLC 200 021 x -- 5 11 4
Fergus Falls -- Eric Conkins, Jarrod Asmus (5) and Jason Heston; CLC -- Nathan Heim, Joe Bruns (6), Darren Prom (6) and Owen. WP -- Prom (2-0). LP -- Asmus. HR -- CLC, Owen. 2B -- CLC, Litke, Heim, Eric Lins; FF, Asmus, Luke Voorhees. Conference -- FF 4-2, CLC 6-0. Overall -- FF 8-4, CLC 8-2.
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