DuBOIS, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Trailing 3-1 heading into the top of the seventh inning, the Clarion baseball team scored five runs to rally for a 6-3 victory over the defending PIAA champion DuBois Central Catholic on Monday afternoon at Showers Field to capture the District 9 Class A championship.
It was Clarion’s first D9 baseball title.
In the seventh, after a ground out started the inning, Dauntae Girvan laced a 1-2 pitch into the left-center gap for a double. Wyatt Watterson came in to pinch run at second base. Hayden Weber then drew a walk. Dawson Smail ripped a towering double off the top of the center field wall to drive in Watterson and Weber to tie the game 3-3. Bryce Brinkley then ripped a triple into the right field corner to drive in Smail with what would turn out to be the game-winning run.
Carter Himes came on to relieve Aiden Snowberger, who was pitching a spectacular game in relief until the seventh. Noah Harrison walked ahead of a Derek Smail RBI groundout to first to drive in Brinkley for a 5-3 lead. Devon Lauer and Tanner Miller then drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Winning pitcher Matt Alston then drew another walk to score Harrison for the 6-3 lead. A strikeout then ended the inning.
Alston then retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh to secure the win and the title for the Bobcats.
“I think our guys got a taste of that the last time we played them where they rallied against us,” said Clarion coach Rob Jewett. “They just entered that inning with the mentality of, ‘Why not us?’ Dauntae hit that gap shot that set the table. When Dawson hit that ball — I thought it was out for a second, but he showed that leadership as a team captain and everyone else just rallied.”
DCC (17-5) had plenty of chances through the first three innings, but was unable to score.
Aiden Snowberger hit a ball off the wall in center field to open the bottom of the first, but was thrown out at second by a perfect throw by Bryce Brinkley. Carter Hickman hit a ball to the fence in right field but was ruled out at second on another good throw by Gary Matus. After a fly out, Kaden Brezenski hit a single to right field where this time Matus fired to Derek Smail who fired to Harrison for the tag out of Hickman at home to end the inning.
“We practiced quick relays and to play the ball off the wall,” said Jewett. “We knew they are an aggressive team, and they’d probably try to take extra bases at times. Bryce did a really nice job on that one ball, and I think Gary had another really good throw.”
The Cardinals loaded the bases in the second inning but failed to score.
In the top of the third, Clarion broke through with the first run of the game.
Dawson Smail and Brinkley each singled. After failing to get a sacrifice bunt down, both runners would be able to move up on a wild pitch. Harrison then hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Smail. After falling behind in the count to Derek Smail, starting pitcher Carter Hickman pulled himself out of the game with an apparent arm injury. Snowberger same on to retire the next two batters to keep the game 1-0.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Cardinals threatened again.
Hickman walked, and Brayden Fox ripped a double putting runners at second and third with no outs. Brezenski flied out to left field, but Hickman got caught in a rundown between third and home and was eventually tagged out for a double play. A pop out to second base ended the inning.
After two strikeouts and falling behind no balls and two strikes, Trent Miller drew a walk. Matt Pyne also walked before Snowberger beat out an infield single and on the play courtesy runner Andrew Green just avoided the relay to the plate from first baseman Matt Alston to tie the game 1-1. Hickman then hit an RBI single for a 2-1 lead. Fox and Brezenski would draw consecutive walks which drove in Snowberger for a 3-1 lead.
Alston then came on to relieve Derek Smail with the bases loaded and got a fly out to end the inning.
Those runs seemed like they would be enough as Snowberger retired 12 out of 13 batters, giving up a single to Girvan in the fourth until the seventh inning rally.
Alston allowed one hit, one walk, and one strikeout in his 3 1/3 innings of work to pick up the win on the mound. Tanner Miller started and worked the first two-plus, allowing no runs on five hits with two walks. Derek Smail pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on two hits. He walked four and struck out two.
“Tanner, Derek, and Matt were all fresh coming into today, so I knew they just needed to come in and throw strikes,” said Jewett. “Matt was the one who ultimately came in and threw strikes and our guys played solid defensively all game behind all three of our pitchers.”
Dawson Smail, Bryce Brinkley, and Girvan collected all six of the Clarion hits with two each. Girvan and Smail each hit a double while Brinkley hit a triple. Smail drove in two runs while Brinkley, Harrison, Derek Smail, and Alston each drove in one run.
Hickman led DCC with a 3-for-3 effort at the plate with two doubles and an RBI. Snowberger collected a pair of hits with an RBI. Fox, Brezenski, and Pisarcik each added one hit with Brezenski driving in a run.
Hickman worked the first 2 1/3 innings allowing one earned run on two hits. He walked two batters.
Snowberger suffered the loss, allowing four earned runs on four hits in four innings. He walked one and struck out one batter. Carter Himes allowed one earned run on no hits with three walks in one third of an inning. Fox allowed one walk in one third of an inning.
“Lifting that trophy felt like hoisting a big monkey off our backs,” said Jewett. “These kids worked so hard. They are all a pleasure to coach, and they certainly deserved this win today.”