Clarion Earns 10-2 Victory Against Cranberry (04/16/2019)

(By CSZ Sports Writer Kenn Staub) Clarion banged out 11 hits in their 10-2 victory over Cranberry last Wednesday in Seneca (April 10), the middle game of three consecutive days of play.

Cam Lapinto rounds first after collecting one of the Bobcats’ 11 hits against Cranberry.

“We didn’t get too many hits yesterday (a 7-5 loss to Moniteau), but I thought we put the ball in play. Today they started to fall a little bit better, a little bit more solid contact, a lot more line drives,” said Clarion manager Rob Jewett of his team’s hitting performance.

Clarion got its bats going in the top of the first when Cal German led off with a two strike single to right. Though German would never cross the plate, getting thrown out going to third later in the inning, his single set the tone.

Nate Datko followed with a ground ball to short, reaching first when it was bobbled. He went to second on a grounder by the next batter, Skylar Rhoades. Clean-up hitter Cole Slaugenhoup singled to score Datko, pushing Rhoades from first to third.

Slaugenhoup took second on the first pitch to Clarion’s next batter, Chase Kriebel. With both runners in scoring position, Kriebel hit a shot to the second baseman. Not only was the ball misplayed, but the throw to first was off target, a costly sequence for Cranberry as Slaugenhoup and Rhoades raced across the plate and Kriebel took second.

Ahead 3-0, number seven hitter Lake Staub hit a two-out single to left, plating Kriebel and going to second on the throw.

Another Cranberry error, this on a ground ball by Skyler Pastor, saw Christian Simko, running for Staub, score to put Clarion up 5-0.

With a five run lead, Rhoades, the Bobcat’s starter, cruised through the first two innings, shutting out the Berries. He faltered a bit in the third, however, as Cranberry, hitless in the frame, converted four walks and a Clarion error into two runs.

Lake Staub turns the middle leg of an inning ending double play in the fifth.

After the third inning blip, Rhoades pitched scoreless baseball through the next two stanzas, with the highlight being a pitcher-to-catcher-to-first inning-ending double play in the fifth.

Berries starter Trevor Gladin rebounded from his shaky start, limiting the Bobcats to two hits and no runs through the fourth. Clarion scored against Gladin again in the fifth when Rhoades reached first on an error, took second on a passed ball, stole third, and came home on a Kriebel single, making the score 6-2.

Gladin gave way to Adam Smerkar in the sixth and the Bobcats were none too kind to the Berries’ reliever, roughing him up for three hits and four runs

With one out, Cam Lapinto singled to left, replaced by Noah DiTullio, whom he had pinch hit for, at first. DiTullio stole second and was driven home by German, who singled to right and moved to second on the throw. Datko, the inning’s fourth hitter, drove in German with a liner to center, giving Clarion an 8-2 lead.

Datko went to second on a balk to the next batter, Rhoades, who worked a full count walk. A wild pitch to Slaugenhoup, batting next, gave Datko the opportunity to take third. He scored shortly thereafter when the pitcher overthrew first trying to pick-off Rhoades, a miscue that saw the clarion runner go to second. Another wild pitch gave Rhoades third.

That was it for Smerkar, the Cranberry manager bringing in David Mullen to try and settle things down. Mullen walked the inning’s sixth batter and saw Rhoades score the Bobcats’ final run on a Kriebel groundout.

Cal German pitched two innings against Cranberry, earning the save.

Rhoades ceded the bump to German in the sixth. In his first stint on the hill this season, German did not give up a run over the last two innings, setting the final at 10-2.

“That’s what we were expecting from him (German). Just go in there, throw strikes, trust his defense, and that’s exactly what he did,” said Jewett.

Overall Jewett was pleased with his team’s performance, noting, “We had some ups and downs, a little bit of a lull in the middle there. I thought we hit the ball pretty well, put it in play, ran the bases nice…”

German, Kriebel, and Staub each enjoyed multi-hit games for Clarion, connecting for two singles apiece. Also getting hits for the Bobcats, all singles, were Datko, Rhoades, Slaugenhoup, Lapinto, and Simko. Kriebel was good for two RBI, while German, Datko, Slaugenhoup, and Staub plated one.

Rhoades pitched the first five innings for the Bobcats, surrendering an earned run on his way to picking up the win. He struck out six against five hits and five walks. German closed out the game for the save, striking out two and walking one.

(Featured image: Christian Simko playing left field ; photographs courtesy of Christie Datko)

(adapted from an article by this author in the 04/16/2019 edition of The Clarion News)