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GANT: Dixon Fans 13 As Clearfield Claims Class 4A Sub-Regional Championship

SOMERSET, Pa. — Although the school year for many is coming to a close, with graduation ceremonies slated for most of the week, it is still playoff season for some schools on the baseball diamond.

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The Clearfield Bison, after capturing the District 9 championship one week ago, continued their quest for more with a trip to Somerset for the District 5/8/9 Subregional championship. In an ironic twist, their opposition was the hometown team, the Somerset Eagles.

The Eagles were the first on the board, but began allowing too many easy base runners. Clearfield would capitalize later in the contest, pulling off the 7-4 victory, earning the Class 4A Subregional title, and moving into the PIAA state playoffs.

It did not come easy because the Eagles struck early, rattling starting pitcher and Bison ace, Hunter Dixon. After a walk and error put runners on first and second, Spencer Marteeny only needed one pitch to put things in favor of Somerset. He would blast a three-run homer over the right field wall, immediately putting the Eagles up 3-0 with no outs on the board. Dixon settled himself down, and struck out three of the next four batters to end the inning.

Clearfield managed to get one run back in the second thanks to an RBI-single from Blake Prestash, however, the Eagles would get it back an inning later on an RBI-double from Ethan Hemminger to make the score 4-1.

But, that run would be the final one given up by Dixon, as he would go on and show exactly why he has been so tough to face all season long. The soon-to-be graduate would pitch a total of six innings, striking out 13 batters, to earn one of the toughest victories he’s ever had in his high school career.

Clearfield had its biggest answer coming in the fifth inning, grabbing the lead for the first and only time in the game.

Somerset pulled starting pitcher Aiden Vanlenten for Shane Roberts, and his time on the hill was not a happy one. The first four batters he faced, all got an easy pass to first base on walks, resulting in the first run to cut the lead in half. Kyle Elensky came to the plate with the bases still loaded, grounding into a 6-4-2 double play, but in doing so would see Nolan Barr come home. The lead suddenly was one run, and the feeling in the dugout for the Eagles was changing, while the Bison dugout suddenly became electric.

That electricity soared when Matt Bailor came to the plate. Still with one runner on base, Bailor made his first swing count. Just as Marteeny did in the opening inning, he blasted the first pitch over the right field wall, giving Clearfield a 5-4 advantage.

The Clearfield dugout and fans suddenly went from being down and gloomy to being empowered, ready to face the next inning with a different vigor.

Dixon came to the mound for his sixth and final inning, closing out his stretch and put down all three batters he faced.

Clearfield added a pair of runs in the seventh, both via RBI-doubles from Elensky and Prestash. The three-run advantage heading into the bottom of the seventh also meant a pitching change, as Dixon hurled 105 pitches, so in a major shift to start the seventh, Dixon went to first, Morgen Billotte went into center field, and Karson Rumsky moved to the hill hoping to earn the save.

Nolan Riggs lined out into center for the first out, but Owen Miller managed to get on base via a single into right field. But, Brad Bruner then hit a fielder’s choice that resulted in Miller being tagged out at second. Then, Rumsky managed to get Gentry Reese swinging on a third strike, putting the third out on the board, and giving Clearfield another championship on the season.

With the District IX playoffs and subregional now behind them, Clearfield (9-11-1) now enters the PIAA state playoffs, and are awaiting their first-round matchup, which will be from District 7, set for Monday, June 7. Opponent and location to be announced.