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Clarion Baseball Wins Third Straight, Fifth in Seven with 5-3 Victory at North Clarion
(Photo by Christie Datko)
It was the third straight win for the Bobcats and their fifth in seven games to improve to 9-7 on the year with a game Thursday at Keystone before starting District 9 Class 1A playoff action a year after finishing second in D9 and second in the PIAA.
Two seniors, who played key roles during last year’s run, were in the middle of the action Wednesday.
Shortstop Spencer Miller scored three runs out of the leadoff spot, while pitcher Cam Craig helped his own cause with a two-run single and also was strong on the mound.
Miller finished the day 2-for-3 with a walk while scoring runs in the first, third and fourth innings.
Craig, meanwhile, was 1-for-3 with a two-run single in the fourth that made it 5-1. He also threw a complete game allowing three runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out two.
Sterling Conner, who added an RBI double, two walks and a run scored, had a great view of Craig’s outing as his catcher.
“He was mixing in all of his pitches really well,” Conner said. “He had them off balance. They were out in front, behind. He was getting a lot of fly balls because they were out front.”
Listen to all of Conner’s thoughts after the contest.
Clarion did a good job of taking what North Clarion gave it in the game scoring a run in the first on a walk to Miller, a stolen base, a wild pitch and Conner’s double.
The Bobcats then added two more in the third when Miller singled leading off and moved to second and third on wild pitches. Conner also drew a one-out walk in the inning and stole second, before both runs scored on a ball hit by Nate Datko that was first booted by third baseman Noah Meyers for an error that allowed Miller to score and then thrown away by Meyers for a second error that allowed Conner to score.
Down 3-0, North Clarion took advantage of one of the two Craig walks to score a run in the hitrd.
Bryce Byers drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a groundout by Zyler Hargengarder. Matson Higgins, who was 2-for-4 in the game, then singled to left putting runners on the corners.
Higgins then tried to steal second but was thrown out by Conner. Byers, however, raced home on the throw to second to cut the Clarion lead to 3-1.
The Bobcats wasted little time getting the run back and adding another one in addition to it with some two-out lightning in the fourth.
Calvin German, the No. 9 hitter, got the rally started with a two-out single to right, and Miller followed with a single to left and went to second when the throw went to third. Craig then followed with a two-run single to left to make it 5-1.
North Clarion got to Craig a bit in the sixth when Logan Minich had a one-out single, and Tyler Wolbert, who was 2-for-3 with two doubles, rocketed a double into left that scored Minich all the way from first with Wolbert going to third on the throw home. Sam Minich followed with an infield single to make it 5-3.
Sam Minich then took second when Craig’s pickoff throw was wild to first, but Craig got Korey Mills to fly out to right to end the threat.
North Clarion tried to get something going in the seventh with two outs when Higgins singled to left.
That prompted a meeting at the mound with Clarion manager Rob Jewett and the entire Bobcats infield along with Conner.
“He was just making sure everyone’s head was in it, asking what pitch Cam wanted to throw, what he was most comfortable with,” Conner said.
The first pitch Craig threw to Zander Hargenrader ended up being a fastball that froze Hargenrader and was a change from the curveball that Craig had seemed to be throwing as a first pitch to nearly every hitter.
“We were thinking he was expecting curveball inside,” Conner said. “So we throw a fastball inside.”
With Hargenrader now guessing, Craig was able to get him to bounce weakly to the mound for the game’s final out.
Zander Hargenrader took the loss going five innings allowing five runs, three earned, on five hits and three walks while striking out five. Higgins pitched two scoreless innings of relief.
The loss dropped North Clarion to 6-7 on the season. It is unknown if the Wolves will enter the District 9 Class 1A playoffs.
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