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Pitching Gamble Pays Off for Clarion-Limestone in Playoff Win over A-C Valley/Union

STRATTANVILLE, Pa. (EYT/D9) – With two days between playoff games, sometimes as a coach you have to take a gamble with your pitching staff.

(Above, Bryson Huwar releases a pitch against A-C Valley/Union during a 5-3 win Tuesday/photo by Diane Lutz)

Clarion-Limestone head baseball coach Todd Smith did just that in lifting ace Bryson Huwar after four innings in the Lions’ 5-3 victory over A-C Valley/Union in a quarterfinal game of the District 9 Class A baseball playoffs at the C-L Sports Complex.

Huwar had worked four innings, allowing one unearned run on two hits, when he was lifted. He walked one and struck out four.

“I trust my team, and I know I have two other capable pitchers in Tommy Smith and Logan Lutz,” said Todd Smith about the move. “We knew we had the lead and we wanted to be able to use Bryson on Thursday.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

Tommy Smith came on in the fifth and worked 1 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out two. Logan Lutz finished with 1 1/3 innings, allowing one hit.

On the other side, Ryan Cooper went the distance, allowing five runs, three earned, on seven hits. He walked three and struck out four.

“I’m proud of all my kids today,” said A-C Valley/Union head coach John Irwin. “The last time we faced Bryson we struck out a lot, and today we put the ball in play and had less strikeouts.”

C-L scored a run in the first inning as Logan Lutz led off with a double. He moved to third on a wild pitch. After a pop out to shortstop, Huwar delivered a single to drive in Lutz for a 1-0 lead.

Ryan Cooper walked after one out in the top of the third and stole second. Lane Bauer singled to center and Cooper was thrown out at the plate trying to score. Catcher Jake Smith made a nice catch in foul territory to end the inning.

C-L then scored two runs in the bottom of the inning to extend the lead to 3-0. Tommy Smith walked and stole second. Huwar delivered his second RBI single of the game. Huwar also stole second and came around to score on a single by Jordan Hesdon.

A-C Valley/Union scored its first run in the top of the fourth. Gary Amsler singled and stole second to lead off the inning. Max Lowrey reached second base on a throwing error, which also allowed Amsler to score. Lowrey stole third, and after a strikeout, was thrown out trying to tag up and score on a shallow fly ball to right field which ended the inning.

“I’m an aggressive coach and I knew runs might be at a premium so we might have to take some chances,” said Irwin. “Give C-L credit they made those plays count.”

Tommy Smith took over on the mound in the fifth and promptly retired the first two batters he faced by a strikeout and a fly out. Cooper singled, stole second, and moved to third on a throwing error. Bauer walked and moved to second on a defensive indifference play. Trey Fleming doubled to drive in both runs.

In the bottom of the fifth after two outs, Jase Ferguson reached on an error and stole second. He later scored on a single by Nick Aaron to right field, but Aaron was tagged out trying to move to second on the throw home attempting to get Ferguson, but the run still counted for a 4-3 C-L lead.

Lowrey walked and stole second. After a strikeout, he was tagged out attempting to steal third. A single by Sebastian Link and a walk signaled the end to Smith’s day on the mound. Logan Lutz got the final out, a pop fly to shortstop Bryson Huwar, who had moved there after his pitching duties were done.

C-L scored its final run in the bottom of the sixth as Corbin Coulson singled and stole second, he moved to third when the throw went into center field. After a strikeout, Courson scored on a throwing error following a ground out by Kohen Kemmer.

Lutz gave up a leadoff single to Cooper before retiring the next three batters to secure the win.

Huwar had two hits and two RBIs to lead the C-L offense. Lutz, Hesdon, Aaron, Coulson, and Jake Smith each added one hit. Hesdon and Aaron each drove in a run.

Cooper led A-C Valley/Union with two hits. Bauer, Fleming, Amsler, and Link each added one hit. Fleming drove in two runs.

C-L will move on to play rival Clarion at noon Thursday at Showers Field in DuBois.

“We know what we’ll be facing in Clarion,” said Todd Smith. “They have a quality team so we’ll have to come out and be ready to play.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.