Clarion Dugout 12u Baseball Team Dominates West Middlessex Memorial Weekend Tournament (06/06/2018)
(By CSZ Sports Writer Kenn Staub) For many, Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer baseball tournament season. This past holiday weekend (June 26-27) Clarion’s Dugout 12u baseball team opened the “summer season” by playing in the 2018 West Middlesex 12u Annual Memorial Day Tournament. Having finished second at the Meadville Mayhem tournament the previous weekend, the Dugout team was looking to capture its first title of the young travel ball season. That’s exactly what the team did, storming through pool play and the championship bracket to claim the crown.
Manager Bill Smith commented that “the loss the weekend before must have lit a fire in us. We dominated each game right from the start.” “During the second day lock down defense and a crazy display of hitting carried us straight to the championship,” said Smith.
The Dugout’s tournament got underway with pool play on Saturday (June 26) to determine its seeding in Sunday’s championship bracket. Playing in Pool C, the schedule included games against Lakeview and Neshannock. The team swept through the competition, emerging with a 2-0 record. More impressively, the Dugout surrendered but a single run while scoring twenty-seven.
GAME 1: Clarion Dugout 11 – Lakeview 1
Clarion (Away) was clearly ready to get things going in its first game of pool play, jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first against Lakeview (Home). Lakeview got its only run of the game in the third, to which The Dugout responded by scoring six in its next at bat during the top of the fourth. Home runs by Nick Aaron and Dawson Smail were highlights of the inning that saw The Dugout take a 10-1 lead. The fifth was quiet for both teams, with The Dugout adding a run in the sixth to set the score at 11-1.
Tommy Smith (two doubles), Jase Ferguson (single, double), and Jake Smith (two singles) opened their tournament with a multi-hit game. Aaron and Smail each went yard, while Kohen Kemmer doubled and
Bryce Brinkley, Brayden Murray, and Devon Lauer singled. Aaron, Brinkley, Ferguson, and Lauer were credited with two RBI apiece. Tommy Smith, Smail, and Murray each plated one. Jake Smith, Brinkley, Ferguson, and Murray all committed single acts of thievery on the base paths.
Logan Lutz started on the bump, striking out three in two innings. Kemmer hurled the third and fourth. Tanner Miller closed out the game’s final two innings, punching out three. Clarion’s defense committed no errors.
GAME 2: Clarion Dugout 16 – Neshannock 0 (four innings)
Pitchers Derek Smail and Jase Ferguson combined to hurl a three hit shut-out in The Dugout’s (Home) abbreviated game against Neshannock. Clarion only scored one run in the first but exploded for eight in the second to go up 9-0. The offensive outburst included Dawson Smail hitting his first of three home runs in the game (second, third, fourth innings), while Jase Ferguson and Devon Lauer pounded their first of the tournament. The Dugout added three in the third, with Braydon Murray joining the home run club. Clarion posted four in the fourth, giving them the 16-0 “ten-run rule” victory.
Dawson Smail had three hits, all homers, and five RBI. Murray also connected for three hits, including homers in the third and fourth and a double in the first. He recorded a four RBI performance. Lauer (home run, single) and Logan Lutz (singled, double) each had two hits. Jase Ferguson homered, Derek Smial doubled, and Bryce Brinkley, Nick Aaron, Kohen Kemmer, and Tanner Miller singled. Lauer drove in three and Brinkley and Ferguson two.
Derek Smail started for The Dugout, striking out four during the first and second. Jase Ferguson closed out the game by striking out three in the final two innings. The defense played their second consecutive error free game.
Clarion came in to the championship round on Sunday (June 27) as the first seed out of their pool, three games separating them from the tournament title. Again the run differential was massively skewed Clarion’s way, as The Dugout scored forty-seven while surrendering only two, which occurred in the first game of the day.
Quarterfinal: Clarion Dugout 17 – Mars 2
The Dugout (Away) got on the board in the top of the first, scoring a run to take an early 1-0 lead. Mars fought back when it came to bat in the bottom, plating two and taking the only lead any opponent would see against Clarion in the tournament. Down 2-1, The Dugout had three runners cross the plate in the second, retaking a lead it would never relinquish. The 5-2 score held up through the next two-and-a-half innings, as neither team could plate a runner. An offensive outburst in the top of the fifth by The Dugout would end this lull, as it added six more to the lead. The Dugout added another seven in the sixth for the 17-2 victory.
Clarion pounded out sixteen hits, including two homers by Derek Smail and a Nick Aaron grand slam, making it the second consecutive week The Dugout hitter accomplished the feat. Smail also belted a single as part of his three hit day. Others enjoying a three hit game were Bryce Brinkley (two singles, double), Dawson Smail (single, two doubles), and
Jase Ferguson (single, two doubles). Devon Lauer was the fifth Clarion player to have a multi-hit game, connecting for a single and double. Jake Smith and Tanner Miller each singled. Brinkley swiped two bags and Dawson Smail one.
Lauer pitched the first two innings, striking out two. He was followed by Dawson Smail, who fanned three in the third and fourth. Tommy Smith pitched the fifth, setting one batter down on strikes, and Ferguson closed out the contest. The Dugout defense was once played mistake-free baseball.
Semifinal: Clarion Dugout 18 – Howland 0
Howland (Home), from Warren, OH, saw their tournament come to an end when it was three-hit by Clarion (Away) hurlers Tommy Smith, Devon Lauer, and Dawson Smail. The Dugout scored two runs in the first and then were blanked in the second and third. Leading 2-0, Clarion added seven in the fourth, five in the fifth, and four in the sixth to win 18-0.
Bryce Brinkley had three hits, two singles and a triple. Dawson Smail hit a home run, his fifth of the tournament, and a single. He accounted for five RBI. Tommy Smith smacked his first home run of the tournament and singled. Kohen Kemmer singled twice. Brayden Murray went deep for the third time over the course of the weekend. Joining the Clarion hit parade with singles were Devon Lauer, Derek Smail, Jake Smith, Nick Aaron, and Logan Lutz. Brinkley and Murray drove in four runs and Tommy Smith was good for three.
Tommy Smith, Lauer, and Dawson Smail pitched for two innings apiece. Smith and Smail both struck out five, Lauer one. The Dugout’s defense was “lights out”, committing not a single error.
Final: Clarion Dugout 12 – Cranberry Twnshp 0
Clarion (Away) beat Cranberry Township (Home) to win the championship game using a tried-and-true formula that worked all tournament; score early, have big at-bats, surrender a minimal number of hits, and play shut-out baseball. The outcome of this game was never in doubt, with The Dugout scoring runs in all but the fourth inning. Scoring two in the first, six in the second, and another two in the third The Dugout held a 10-0 lead before its brief offensive lull. Clarion plated one in both the fifth and sixth to win going away, 12-0.
Bryce Brinkley went 4-4, stroking four singles. Tommy Smith was 3-4, falling a home run shy of the cycle, belting a single, double and triple. Derek Smail homered for the third time in the tournament. Jase Ferguson and Brayden Murray doubled. Dawson Smail, Devon Lauer, and Kohen Kemmer contributed singles. Smith and Murray led the way with four RBI apiece. Dawson Smail, Derek Smail, and Lauer received credit for one.
The pitching trio of Smith, Dawson Smail, and Lauer combined for the second consecutive game to toss a shut-out. Smail pitched three innings and whiffed seven, Smail two innings and struck out four, and Lauer one inning, during which he fanned one. The defense played error-free baseball for the fifth time in the teams five games.
Manager Smith noted that the team was able to save its top pitchers for the championship game. “Cranberry Township had hit upwards of twenty-five home runs to this point. Jumping out to an eight run lead in the first three two innings was huge. Tommy Smith pitched the first three innings and completely shut down the high powered offense, only giving up one hit and striking out seven. Dawson Smail and Devon Lauer sealed the deal only giving up one more hit and striking out five. Total dominance from beginning to end,” said Smith.
Smith extended thanks to the team’s sponsors, including KB & B Dugout of Clarion, Clarion American Legion Post #66, and the Fryburg Sportsman Club.
(article based on GameChanger information and statistics courtesy of Mike Smith, all photographs courtesy of Diane Lutz)