PAINT TWP, Pa. – An unlikely source helped Clarion Area walk off a win over Clarion-Limestone 3-2 in eight innings on Wednesday afternoon at the Clarion County Park.
(Photo: Ryan Alston Pitched 4 2/3 Innings for Clarion)
Gary Matus collected a double for his first hit of the season to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning. Smail then followed with another double to drive in Matus with the game-winning run.
“We had an unlikely hero there with Gary (Matus) getting his first hit of the season, and then Dawson (Smail) went with a pitch to drive him in,” said Clarion head coach Rob Jewett. “Gary has been working really hard and trying to improve. I’m so happy for him, and hopefully, it’ll continue for him.”
C-L (1-2 overall) took a 2-0 lead in the first inning and had the bases loaded with no outs but failed to score any more runs that inning or for the rest of the game, for that matter.
“We just left too many guys on base today, and we swung at several pitches that may have been out of the strike zone,” said C-L head coach Todd Smith. “We had 13 flyouts for the game.”
Ryan Alston and Devon Lauer combined to give up two runs on seven hits, but they also helped the Lions strand 11 runners on base for the game.
C-L also had a good pitching performance from Bryson Huwar and Hayden Callen, who combined to allow three runs on just four hits.
“We hit the ball well today, but it was just right at people at times,” said Jewett. “C-L also made a few good defensive plays, so you have to give credit to them as well. It was just two good teams battling out there today, and fortunately, we were able to come out on top.”
Early on, it looked like C-L might run away with the game as Jordan Hesdon doubled down the left-field line to open the game. Tommy Smith then drew a walk before Hayden Callen hit a ground ball that glanced off the second baseman for an error which allowed Hesdon to score. Huwar then singled to drive in Smith for a 2-0 lead. Ryan Hummell then reached on an error by the third baseman to load the bases. A pop out to short right field kept the bases loaded. Corbin Coulson then hit a ground ball back to Alston, who got the force out at home. Nick Aaron then hit a ground ball to third baseman Daunte Girvan who stepped on third for the force out to end the inning.
“We just wanted our guys to limit the damage in that first inning, and we did a nice job to just allow those two runs and nothing more,” said Jewett. “I think that really gave our guys a lot of momentum for the rest of the game.”
After two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Cole Slaugenhoup was hit by a pitch. Courtesy runner Bryce Brinkley came around to score on three wild pitches to cut the lead to 2-1 after one.
C-L’s best scoring chance after that first inning came in the top of the fourth as Ben Smith reached on an error after two outs. Hesdon then singled, followed by a single by Huwar. However, on the Huwar single, Hesdon kept running toward third, not realizing that Smith was being held at third which made Smith attempt to score and get into a rundown where he was eventually tagged out at third to end the inning.
“We had that baserunning mistake in that one inning,” said Todd Smith. “I was trying to hold the runner at third, but he got run off the bases, and we weren’t able to score there.”
Clarion then would tie the game in the bottom of the inning as Cam Lapinto reached second on a throwing error by the Lions’ shortstop. A ground out moved Lapinto to third before Devon Lauer singled home Lapinto to tie the game 2-2.
After that inning, Callen proceeded to retire the next nine batters in a row before the Matus and Smail hits ended the game.
“We didn’t change our approach for that last inning,” said Jewett. “We just wanted the guys to go up and look for their pitch in a certain area, and they were able to come through.”
Lauer picked up the win in relief, pitching the final 3 1/3 innings allowing two hits with two strikeouts; he also hit one batter. Alston started and worked the first 4 2/3 innings allowing two unearned runs on five hits. He walked three and struck out two.
Callen suffered the loss allowing two runs, one earned in 5 2/3 innings. He allowed four hits and struck out five. Bryson Huwar started and worked 1 1/3 innings, allowing one run on no hits with one walk, one strikeout, and two hit batters.
“We’ve been in a lot of our games this season but had some things fall apart on us at times,” said Jewett. “Tonight, I felt we finally played a complete game which is what I really wanted to see. We’re a young team, and we’re still learning some things, so hopefully, a win like this will pick up our confidence for future games.”