When Kyle Clayton made contact on the first pitch of his final at-bat of the day, someone in the Three Rivers dugout yelled, "Game over!"
The ball carried until it dropped into the bullpen behind right field, and the game was over.
Clayton drilled a grand slam over the fence to send Three Rivers home early with a 14-3, six-inning run-rule win over Shawnee Community College to finish off a doubleheader sweep Monday at Roger Pattillo Field.
"I just tried to barrel it up," Clayton said. "I knew first pitch he was going to give me a strike. I knew how he was going to be. We just tried to get out of here early. We've got stuff to do after this, homework and stuff. Just tried to put a good swing on it and luckily I hit a ball over the fence to end the game."
Clayton's grand slam — his second homer of the season — epitomized the type of day it was for the Raiders. Steady offensively with explosive innings. In the second game of the day, Three Rivers put up four runs in the first inning, four more in the fifth and six in the sixth to end the game.
In the opening game, Three Rivers hit five home runs, including two by Roberto Mejia, in a 15-7 win.
After dropping six games in a row, Three Rivers (13-13-1) has now won four in a row. The offense has been cooking during the last two series, averaging 13.5 runs per game during its last two sweeps.
"We had a players-only meeting, and most of us have gotten extra work done," Clayton said. "It's paid off, as you can see. Pitchers are actually throwing strikes now, and we're linking up together. It's not just one side, the hitting is there, the pitching is there, and both of us are kind of clicking."
Three Rivers coach Stacey Burkey has seen the improvements, both in practice and on the field, that have helped his team break out of the slump it was in a couple of weeks ago.
"We've been taking good rounds of (batting practice), and it's nice to see it carry over into games now," Burkey said. "We're finding a lot of barrels as far as hitting a lot of balls solid, and we made some hard outs. Good hitters will make a lot of hard outs. I think our offense is starting to show some consistency, and that's exactly what we want trying to go into a big month of April coming up."
The defense didn't make too many mistakes Monday. Three Rivers committed three errors combined in both games, while Shawnee made five total. River Hunt was solid on the mound in four innings of work on the front end of the doubleheader. He allowed two hits and two earned runs to go along with two strikeouts and two walks. Nash Winters gave up six hits in three innings with three strikeouts and five earned runs.
Elvin Diaz started the second game and tossed five strikeouts in four innings, allowing five hits and a solo home run — his only run allowed — for a 1.75 ERA in his first start of the year.
"(Diaz) was very sharp," Burkey said. "He threw really well out in his last appearance out of the bullpen and I think earned the start. He's going to start this weekend as well. He threw like 65 pitches today in four innings. That's pretty efficient."
Palmer Campbell went the last two innings, allowing two hits and two earned runs with one strikeout.
Three Rivers will host another doubleheader against Williams Baptist, starting at 1 p.m. The Raiders swept Williams Baptist in a road doubleheader on Feb. 26.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic