Bobcat Baseball Wins Opener (03/27/2019)

(By CSZ Sports Writer Kenn Staub)  On a typically brisk early spring evening this past Tuesday (March 29) the Clarion Bobcats opened the 2019 baseball season by downing the Karns City Gremlins 7-1 at Pullman Park in Butler. The boys in orange-and-black pounded out nine hits, three for extra bases, while taking advantage of five Karns City errors and the Gremlins’ inability to push runners across the plate.

Clarion couldn’t manage a hit in the first two innings against Karns City starter Tyler Yough. After walking Bobcat shortstop Cal German to open the game, Yough retired the next six batters he faced.

The bottom of the first inning proved to be a microcosm of the way the game played out for the Gremlins. Despite loading the bases, Karns City could not push a run across, leaving three ducks on the pond when its seventh hitter struck out looking.

The Gremlins ultimately stranded nine in the first six innings, failing to score despite having a runner in the second, two in the third, and another bases loaded situation in the fourth.

Clarion got on the board in the third frame. Skyler Pastor led off with a triple to left, hustling home when German hit into a one-out fielder’s choice.

The Bobcats extended their lead in the fourth, coming alive with two down. Cole Slaugenhoup singled to left, scoring when the Karns City leftfielder misplayed Lake Staub’s liner, an error which saw him advance to third. Christian Simko, running for Staub, scored on a Chase Kriebel infield single. Kriebel, who had advanced to second owing to an errant throw, scooted home on Pastor’s second extra base hit of the game, this one a double to left, making the score 4-0.

After going down in order during the fifth, the Bobcats added a run to their lead in the sixth. Staub reached first on a fielder’s choice, scoring when Kriebel tripled to right.

Leading 5-0, Clarion again parlayed some clutch two-out hitting into runs during the seventh. Nate Datko reached on an error, going to second when Skylar Rhoades singled. Drew Whren followed with a single to load the bases, after which Datko was pushed across the plate when Slaugenhoup was hit by a pitch. Rhoades scored from third on Staub’s second single of the game, giving Clarion a 7-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Kriebel, who took the hill in relief of Rhoades in the fifth, was having his way with the Gremlin hitters, retiring the first six batters he faced, five by punch out.

Kriebel found himself in a bit of a jam during the seventh. The Karns City lead-off hitter reached first on a dropped third strike, moving to second when the next batter made contact for an infield single. The third batter walked to load the bases, with a run scoring when the inning’s clean-up hitter poked a dribbler to the left side.

With the score 7-1 and facing a bases loaded situation, Kriebel took matters into his own hands, fanning the next three batters.

Pastor (triple, double), Staub (two singles), and Kriebel (single, triple) enjoyed multi-hit games for the Bobcats. Kriebel drove in two, while Pastor and Staub plated one apiece. Whren, Rhoades, and Slaugenhoup all singled. Slaugenhoup and German were each credited with plating a run.

Rhoades got the start for Clarion, pitching the first four innings on the way to picking up the win. He struck out four and scattered a like number of hits. Kriebel pitched three innings in relief, earning the save. The freshman hurler struck out nine and gave up one hit, an infield single.

The Bobcats are scheduled to return to action next Monday (April 1) when the play at Clarion-Limestone. They then travel to Brookville on Wednesday (April 3) and New Bethlehem for a game against Redbank Valley on Friday (April 5).

(featured picture of Pullman Park)