Clarion 11-12 All-Stars Win 2018 District 25 Title (07/10/2018)

(By CSZ Sports Writer Kenn Staub)  The Clarion 11-12 All-Stars swept through the winner’s side of the tournament bracket to claim the 2018 District 25 title on Saturday, July 7.

Clarion began its tournament with a first round victory over Cranberry on Monday, June 25, followed by a quarterfinal win three days later against Titusville (June 28). After hosting the first two games at Paul A. Weaver Park, the All-Stars hit the road on Saturday, June 30 for a semifinal match-up against Oil City. Though they were away from the friendly confines, the All-Stars came away with a win to reach the District 25 finals. In a display of dominance by the Clarion team, the Titusville game was the only contest of the three that went six innings, as the other two were abbreviated “10-run rule” victories. Clarion allowed only two runs in the three games.

Upon reaching the finals, Clarion found themselves in a waiting game, as inclement weather kept forcing postponements and rescheduling on the elimination side of the bracket. Finally, on Friday, July 6, Oil City claimed a berth opposite Clarion in the finals. After waiting a week, the All-Stars were ready to go, thumping Oil City on their way to racing around Weaver Park with the District 25 championship banner.


Monday, June 25 (Game 1): Clarion 16 – Cranberry 0 (3 innings)

Clarion had its way with Cranberry in the opening game of the District 25 tournament. The All-Stars scored six in the first inning and 10 in the second, while pitcher Tommy Smith no-hit the opposition to take an abbreviated-game victory.

The All-Stars banged out 14 hits in the contest. Dawson Smail led the way with three, including two home runs, and plating five. Others enjoying multi-hit games were Smith (triple, single), Derek Smail (double, single), Bryce Brinkley (two singles), and Jase Ferguson (two singles). Kohen Kemmer rapped a double, with both Nick Aaron and Logan Lutz contributing singles. Kemmer had two RBI, while Brinkley, Ferguson, Aaron, Tommy Smith, Derek Smail, Devon Lauer, and Jake Smith were good for one apiece. Ferguson and Derek Smail each swiped a bag.

Tommy Smith threw a three inning, no-hitter for Clarion, needing only 34 pitches to complete the task. He struck out six in his two and two-third innings on the mound.

(statistics from Little League Clarion Allstars 12u GameChanger)


Thursday, June 28 (Quarterfinals): Clarion 7 – Titusville 1

Titusville, playing as the home team by virtue of a coin flip, scored its only run of the game in the bottom of the first. Trenton Rodgers bunted to reach first, taking second on a one-out wild pitch to the third Titusville batter, Brock Covell. Covell then grouded to short, where Dawson Smail fielded the ball and smartly looked Rodgers back to second before throwing to first for the second out. Once Smail released his throw, however, Rodgers bolted and the Clarion first baseman, thinking the runner’s delay might give him a play at third for the final out, unleashed an errant toss that saw Rodgers motor home to score.

After holding Clarion scoreless in the top of the second, Titusville, making its District 25 tournament debut, threatened to add to its 1-0 lead. With one-out, Caden Blakeslee singled to right, Titusville’s second and final hit of the contest. Blakeslee made it to second on a fielder’s choice, but was stranded there, earning the dubious distinction of also being Titusville’s last baserunner of the game.

Clarion’s offense came alive in the third inning. Brayden Murray led off with a single. He scored when Dawson Smail, making his second plate appearance of the game, went deep. The two-run homer was Smail’s third round tripper in the two-game old tournament.

Clarion starting pitcher Devon Lauer, working with a 2-1 lead, struck out the Titusville side on ten pitches to close out the third, finishing with five for the game. He did not walk anybody in his three innings of work.

After a fourth inning lull, Clarion lit up the scoreboard in the fifth, adding to their advantage.

Bryce Brinkley reached as his grounder deflected off the first baseman’s glove. He went to second on a wild pitch the Titusville hurler uncorked while in the process of walking the next batter, Dawson Smail. With runners on first and second, Tommy Smith stroked a single to right, scoring Brinkley. Smail raced home on the throw from the outfield during the play, making the score 4-1, while Smith simultaneously took second.

Derek Smail followed Smith by taking a 1-1 pitch deep, giving Clarion a 6-1 lead.

Clarion tacked on another run in the sixth. Brinkley was the recipient of a two out walk, reaching second on a passed ball. He high-tailed it to third on a Dawson Smail single and scored as Smith singled to center, putting Clarion up 7-1.

During the final three innings, as Clarion was adding to its lead, Smith, who took the mound at the start of the fourth, was almost single-handedly shutting down Titusville’s hitters. He fanned seven of the nine batters he faced, helping to seal the game in the process. Like Lauer before him, Smith issued no free passes.

Through this contest, Smith had pitched six innings in the tournament’s two games and not allowed a run. In that span he struck out 13 without issuing a walk.

(excerpted from my story in the July 3 edition of the Clarion News)


Saturday, June 30 (Semifinals): Clarion 13 – Oil City 1 (four innings)

Oil City scored one in the top of the first to take an early 1-0 lead. That, however, as the old saying goes, was “all she wrote.” Clarion shut Oil City out the rest of the way, plating four in the first, three in the second, and six in the third to take its second “ten-run rule” win of the tournament.

Four Clarion players finished the game with two hits: Bryce Brinkley (doubles), Dawson Smail (triple, single), Devon Lauer (double, single), and Tommy Smith (singles). Jase Ferguson and Kohen Kemmer each doubled. Nick Aaron singled. Smail and Lauer were credited with three RBI apiece, Ferguson two, and Tommy Smith, Tanner Miller, and Jake Smith one. Kemmer, Dawson Smail, and Derek Smail swiped bases.

Dawson Smail started on the mound for Clarion, striking out three in two innings. Brayden Murray pitched the third and fourth, fanning three as well.

(statistics from Little League Clarion Allstars 12u GameChanger)


Saturday, July 7 (Finals): Clarion 20 – Titusville 1 (four innings)

After a week of waiting, Clarion found themselves in a rematch with Titusville for the District 25 championship. Though at Paul A. Weaver Park, Clarion found itself playing as the away team by virtue of a coin toss, much like in the first contest between the two.

Unlike in their first meeting, Clarion took the lead in the first and never looked back, cruising to victory. Clarion scored three in both the first and second innings, added four in the third, and exploded for ten in the fourth, surrendering but a single run to Titusville in the third.

Dawson Smail hit his fourth home run of the four game tournament and fell just short of the cycle by a single. Brayden Murray also went yard and tacked on two singles for good measure. Tommy Smith hit two doubles and Bryce Brinley two singles. Devon Lauer also doubled, with Derek Smail, Jase Ferguson, Tanner Miller, and Dauntae Girvan singlng. Ferguson had the only stolen base of the game.

Smith pitched all four innings for Clarion, striking out seven and surrendering only two hits.

By virtue of winning the District 25 championship, the 11-12 All-Stars advance to the Section 1 tournament. Play begins on Saturday, July 14 in Meadville. Follow the Clarion Little League All-Stars Facebook page to receive the latest postseason information (

(statistics from Little League Clarion Allstars 12u GameChanger)

(featured photograph courtesy of Diane Lutz)