Clarion Falls To C-L In D9 Play-offs, Ending Baseball Season (05/29/2018)
(By CSZ Sports Writer Kenn Staub) Going into the first round of this year’s District 9 Class A baseball play-offs the Clarion Bobcats had not lost to the Clarion-Limestone (C-L) Lions in a little over three years. The Bobcats’ seven game win streak included two victories in just this past month, a 12-1 “ten-run rule” rout on May 2 and a tight 3-0 win on May 9. All this became somewhat ancient history on Wednesday, May 23 at County Park when the sixth seeded Lions defeated the third seeded Bobcats 5-3, eliminating the young men in black-and-orange from the 2018 postseason.
At the outset it appeared that those in attendance might be treated to a pitcher’s duel, though this impression ultimately proved be short lived. Bobcat starter Skylar Rhoades opened the game by fanning the trio of Lions he faced. C-L’s starter also only faced three in the bottom of the frame, cleaning up a walk to Clarion’s lead-off batter by picking him off first.
C-L’s batters put the ball in play during the second, with Clarion’s defense the victim of bad hops on two different occasions. Regardless of the circumstances, the Lions did what a good baseball team does, converting opportunities into runs for a 2-0 lead.
The Lions added two to their lead in the bottom of the third. This time the visitors used a walk, error, hit, and well-placed squeeze bunt to go up 4-0.
Clarion cooled down some of C-L’s mounting enthusiasm in the home half of the third. Cal German stroked a two out line drive past C-L’s right fielder. German, running like a man on fire, dashed from first to second to third and, never hesitating, continued on to home, scoring when the throw in from the outfield was bobbled.
C-L posted another run in the top of the sixth, parlaying two singles, a fielder’s choice, and another sacrifice bunt into a 5-1 advantage.
Clarion tightened the game in the bottom of the inning, tallying two to make the score 5-3. Spencer Miller led off with a walk and scored on a Cam Craig double to left. Sterling Conner followed Craig with a single to left, a play that ultimately plated Craig when Conner drew the throw from the outfield and was tagged out sliding into second.
Craig took the mound in the seventh, fanning the three C-L batters he faced to keep the Bobcats within striking distance.
Unfortunately for Clarion, their bats were silent in the seventh, as a routine fly and two strike outs finished off the Bobcats, preserving the Lion’s 5-3 victory.
The Bobcats connected for six hits. German tripled, Craig doubled, and Conner, Rhoades, Cole Slaugenhaup, and Drew Whren singled. Craig and Conner had an RBI apiece.
Rhoades pitched the first five innings for Clarion, punching out ten and giving up four earned runs. Miller threw the sixth, fanning one. Craig finished the game for Clarion, needing fourteen pitches to strike out the side.
The Bobcats finish 2018 with an overall record of 10-8. During the regular season Clarion posted a 10-7 record, 9-2 in the KSAC. Noteworthy is the fact that until the play-offs Clarion had only lost to one Class A school, Dubois Central Catholic.
(photographs by Christie Datko)