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GANT: Elensky’s Two-Run Blast Push Clearfield Over P-O

HYDE, Pa. — Earlier this season, the Clearfield Bison got overwhelmed by the Philipsburg-Osceola Mounties in a game that hit the mercy rule, and led P-O to an easy victory. Just over two weeks later, the two would face off for the second game in their series in 2021, this time at the Bison Sports Complex at the Clearfield Junior/Senior High School.

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Although the run total was lower compared to the first match up, it certainly was a more entertaining contest. The two dueled back and forth, but it was one swing of the bat that made the difference. That swing allowed Clearfield to get back on the winning track, reaching the halfway point of their season with a thrilling 5-3 triumph over the Mounties.

“This was a big win for us,” Clearfield head coach Sid Lansberry said. “Hopefully it is a change-around type of game for our season. It is a big difference from the first game over there. Anytime you beat P-O, it is a hard-earned victory since they are a well-coached team.

That well-coached team was the first on the board as following a lead-off triple, Dave Meersand would ground out to first, scoring Jake DeSimone. Shortly after, it was an RBI-single from Caleb Pellerite that increased the lead by another run. Starting pitcher Hunter Dixon, who also pitched Monday’s victory over Curwensville, got out of the inning shortly after, but knew more work needed to be done in order to come back.

Hunter Dixon pitched all seven innings to get the victory (Photo by D Parks)
It wasn’t until the bottom of the third when that help came.

Cole Bloom would lead off, and do so with a gem of a hit into right field, rounding all the way to third for an opening triple to fire up the dugout. Morgen Billotte would then single and plate the opening Bison run to cut the lead in half, an exact mirror image of the opening two batters of the game for P-O. Four batters later, almost exactly the same as the opening inning, as Dixon helped his own cause with a double into center field. But, this hit would bring a pair of batters home to give the Bison a 3-2 lead after three innings.

P-O kept on fighting as starting pitcher Parker White kept pitching solid innings, while his teammates added another run in the fifth to tie things up at three.

On the opposite side, Dixon was still doing his thing on the mound, and Lansberry was impressed how his ace was handling the game, even with it being another week of him starting two games.

“He just threw 100 pitches on Monday night, but was just outstanding,” he said.

The bottom of the fifth inning is when things immediately changed, as it started with Karson Rumsky getting on base with a single into center. Up next, Kyle Elensky came to the box, and took a 1-1 pitch right down the line. One swing of the bat and the crack of aluminum got the entire Bison dugout on alert. The ball began sailing deeper into left field, and his teammates kept watching. He isn’t the biggest player on the team, but the biggest play of the day came from his bat, as the Bison dugout saw the ball go over the left field wall for the first home run of the season. The team came out and greeted Elensky at home plate as his two-run blast put Clearfield ahead 5-3.

“That was a hit-and-run. That was an absolutely big hit, but defensively he made some huge plays as well,” Lansberry said of his third baseman.

At that point, White was taken out of the lineup and P-O brought in Meersand to take over pitching duties. White would get tagged with the loss as he would go four innings, giving up five runs, four earned, and striking out four.

Meanwhile, the Bison defense got invigorated following the home run as in the sixth inning it was Billotte making a wild grab in center field for a key out, while Ryan Gearhart caught a quick liner into left in the next at-bat. Dixon kept going on the mound as he would in the end make a complete game effort, giving up just those three runs, and striking out four.

P-O’s last effort came in the seventh as following a ground out, DeSimone managed to get on first with a single into shallow left. But, he would get greedy and try to steal second. Caught in a rundown, he kept trying to escape but in the end would get tagged for the pick off.

With two outs on the board, Meersand managed a single to get a runner on base. Nathan Gustkey came to the box, and Dixon no longer worried about the runner on first. With one out needed, his focus was solely on pitching. He would get to a full count, and Gustkey was ready for the pitch. But, the sinking fast ball got by his bat, and at that moment, it was game over, and a Bison victory.

“Defense tonight was unbelievable. Kyle (Elensky) was on fire, making great plays, RG (Ryan Gearhart) had that great play in left field. Morgen in center had that line drive in the sixth, and that was a big out,” Lansberry said. “Those are plays that we just have not been making every game.”

The victory was hard-earned for Clearfield, especially coming off a rough outing days earlier against Penns Valley that saw them commit eight errors. But Lansberry saw a much different team on this night than they did on Tuesday, giving credit to every player that was on the field.

“This was a good team win. Yes, it sounds redundant, because every win is a team win,” Lansberry said. “But tonight, everyone contributed.”

Clearfield (4-5-1) is in the midst of five consecutive home games, as they will be back in action on Monday hosting Bald Eagle Area.