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Clarion Baseball Tops Karns City in Thriller

BUTLER, Pa. – Trailing 10-4 after four innings, the Clarion Bobcats came back to win 12-11 in extras over Karns City in a thrilling contest on Monday night.

(Photo by Nathan Girvan: Cam Lapinto played a solid two-way game for Clarion)

Clarion scored four in the fifth, two in the sixth, and one in the seventh to send the game into extras, allowing only one run in the final three frames. Clarion worked out of a one-out bases-loaded jam with the winning run on third in the seventh, as pitcher Cam Lapinto snagged a line drive and doubled off the runner at third to escape the inning and send the game into extras.

A Cole Slaugenhoup single gave the Bobcats a one-run lead in the eighth, and Lapinto worked out of another jam in the bottom half of the inning, stranding the tying run on third to close out the ballgame.

The Bobcats used relentless baserunning to score their runs, stealing nine bases and taking advantage of eight wild pitches to apply pressure to the Gremlins. Patience was the key for Karns City’s offense, as they complimented their nine hits with eight walks and four hit-by-pitches.

No Clarion player had multiple hits, but both Dawson Smail and Cam Lapinto reached base three times in the contest. Lapinto also collected the win for Clarion, working the seventh and eighth innings. Mallick Metcalfe and Zack Blair each notched two hits for Karns City, with Metcalfe driving in four runs. Braeden Rodgers took the loss for the Gremlins on the mound, surrendering two runs in the final two frames.

Clarion scored a pair of runs in the first after a wild pitch scored Ryan Alston, and a Devon Lauer single brought in Lapinto. Dawson Smail drove in Gary Matus to add to Clarion’s lead in the second, but Karns City would strike back, as a Metcalfe triple in the third would cut Clarion’s lead to 3-1.

After the Bobcats scored a run in the fourth, the Gremlins offense would go off, scoring nine runs in the bottom of the frame to break the game open. Mitchell Waldroup, Luke Garing, Rodgers, Metcalfe, Blair, and Conner Shaffer would each tally RBI in the frame, as the Gremlins smashed a string of hard-hit singles to capitalize on Clarion’s free passes. The Gremlins’ discipline was also vital to their success in the frame, as they forced Clarion into numerous walks but continued to keep an aggressive approach at the dish.

Trailing 10-4, Clarion started their comeback in the fifth, scoring four runs in the frame. After Smail scored on a passed ball, a Cam Lapinto single drove in the second run of the inning. After reaching third on a wild pitch, Lapinto caught Karns City napping, dashing home for Clarion’s third run of the inning. A Bryce Brinkley RBI groundout finished the scoring, cutting the deficit to 10-8.

A Metcalfe sacrifice fly in the fifth upped the Gremlins’ lead to three, but a passed ball and a balk would allow Hunter Craddock and Smail to score a pair for Clarion in the sixth, cutting the lead to 11-10.

Entering the seventh inning needing a run to keep the game alive, Clarion used their baserunning to get the job done. After Lapinto walked to start the inning, he reached second on a wild pitch. A Lauer sacrifice bunt advanced Lapinto to third, and he scored on another wild pitch to tie the game. Clarion came close to taking the lead in the frame, but some savvy Gremlins’ defense got them out of the inning, as they turned a dropped third strike with a runner on third into a 2-3-2 double play.

An error began the bottom of the seventh, allowing Sherwin to reach base. A sacrifice bunt moved Sherwin to second, and Clarion elected to intentionally walk Metcalfe, putting the winning run on second with one out. Blair singled deep in the hole between shortstop and third to load the bases with one out, bringing Michael Neff to the plate. On a 0-1 count, Neff smashed a line drive right into the glove of Lapinto, who doubled off the runner at third to take the game into extras.

Craddock got the Bobcats going in the eighth, reaching base on a hit-by-pitch with one out. Craddock took second on a passed ball, and Smail filled in behind Craddock after a walk. After a fly-out, a double steal put runners on second and third with two outs. Slaugenhoup came up big for Clarion, singling just past second base to drive in Craddock to take a 12-11 lead. Smail also attempted to score on the play but was cut down at the plate thanks to another well-executed play at the plate by Karns City.

Needing a run to keep the game alive, Karns City quickly put the tying run on third, using a hit-by-pitch and Callihan single to put Shaffner on third with no outs. Lapinto then struck out Waldroup for the first out of the inning but walked Garing to load the bases. Cole Sherwin then flew out for the second out of the inning, and Lapinto got Rodgers to fly out to center field to end the game, sealing the win for Clarion on a drama-filled night.