HYDE, Pa. — Last week’s tie against Indiana left a bit of a sour taste in the mouths of the Clearfield Bison. After battling to get out in the lead, and losing it late, they were wanting to get back on the diamond.
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Having to wait a few days because of mother nature helped immensely, after a four-game week, it was four days of rest before they were back on their home turf on Wednesday for a Mountain League contest against the Huntingdon Bearcats.
Unlike the game against Indiana, this game came down to two pitchers going toe-to-toe for an entire game. Huntingdon’s Josh Bryson and Clearfield’s Hunter Dixon would be the only two pitchers on the mound all game, and pitched a combined seven-hit contest. But it was the slight bit of offense that Clearfield found midway through the game that gave them the lone run of the game, enough to secure the 1-0 victory in the quick contest.
“This was a great way for us to come back after that tie,” Bison Head Coach Sid Lansberry said afterwards. “Not only that, but we had four games last week and our kids were tired. The rain on Monday gave us a much-needed day of rest. We were fresh, rested, and we played well today.”
Lansberry was right, as the Bison looked as if they were a different team on Wednesday. Dixon had already two starts under his belt from a week ago, three days apart no less, and he was given the start once more against the Bearcats. He would put together a complete game shutout, yielding only four hits, and only threw 77 pitches. What amazed Lansberry was of those pitches, less than 20 percent of them were balls. In the victory, Dixon tossed 10 strikeouts.
On the opposite side, Bryson was dealing just as hard, tossing 79 pitches over his six innings of work, but striking out four.
Dixon (mound) throws to first base for a key pick-off in the seventh inning. (Photo by D Parks)
Each squad kept the other in check, but the bottom of the third was the only time one squad showed vulnerability. Matt Bailor led off the bottom of the inning with a double into left field. Shane Coudriet came in as the courtesy runner, allowing Bailor to get back to the dugout and get his catcher’s gear on for the next inning. Cole Bloom then came to the plate, and laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Coudriet into scoring position, despite putting one out on the board.
Nolan Barr then came into the batter’s box, and on a 2-1 pitch grounded to shortstop Ashton Steele. Steele then had to decide if the throw to home would make it in time or if getting the second out at first was the better option. In the end, the choice was taking the out at first, but not before Coudriet made it to home plate for what ultimately was the deciding run.
Defensively, Clearfield found itself in a bit of a bind in the final inning, as Huntingdon first put Tyson Cook on first after a single into left field. But, for the second time in the game, Dixon was able to get the ball to Blake Prestash for a pick off, putting one out on the board. The Bearcat coaches, and even some of the players, were irate at the call, saying that it should have been a balk instead of an out. After the quick conference at home plate, and one final quick remark from Huntingdon’s first base coach, play resumed.
Brady Handy then singled to first to put the tying run at least on the bases.
Bryson then came to the box hoping to show his offense was as good as his defense. After swapping out a courtesy runner for Handy, Bryson connected on the 0-2 pitch. But, the ball went to Karson Rumsky at short, who then had to quickly get the ball to Nolan Barr, and then he would turn to throw to Prestash at first. The throw made it in time, and the 6-4-3 double play would conclude the game in strong fashion.
“Defensively we made really good plays, and that double play was an example of it,” Lansberry said. “This was a really good game for both teams, a great pitching duel.”
Clearfield (2-3-1) has one more game this week, Thursday at Bellefonte, before they get back into a stretch of four games in five days next week.