PHILIPSBURG — For the second year in a row, Philipsburg-Osceola proved to be the roadblock the Clearfield Little League 11-and-12 All-Stars couldn\’t hurdle after battling back through the elimination bracket for a crack at the District 5 Northern Tier Tournament championship.
Righthander Greg Belko fashioned a four-hitter with seven strikeouts and no walks and Mike Marcinko punctuated a seven-run fourth inning with a walkoff grand slam home run to left center as undefeated Philipsburg-Osceola claimed the tier title with a 12-2 win at Homer Maney Memorial Field Wednesday night.
The champs will pit their 4-0 record against Southern Tier kingpin State College National in a best-of-three series for the district crown. The 6 p.m. games are will be played at Milesburg Friday, Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday.
A late afternoon thunderstorm that delayed the start of the game 20 minutes had no effect on Belko\’s first tourney start as he chalked up pairs of strikeouts in innings one, three and four.
Drew Bryan provided the hosts with a quick 2-0 lead when he launched his fourth homer of the tourney to deep center in the bottom of the first.
Clearfield\’s Levi Picard made it 2-1 with a two-out homer to center in the second.
Bryan and Logan Walstrom sandwiched solid singles to center around a walk to load the bases in the third. Gunnar Chutko\’s grounder produced one run, a Clearfield error plated another and Mark Curtis\’ walk forced in a third to make it 5-1.
In the fourth, Robert Lombardo drilled a double inside third base and scored Clearfield\’s second run on Curtis Frye\’s looping single to center.
All of Philipsburg-Osceola\’s runs in the bottom of the inning came with two outs and were unearned. The only hits were Robbie Smith\’s double over the first base bag and Marcinko\’s first career homer. In between were three walks and three Clearfield misplays.
Chad Kandare had the other hit for Clearfield, which had won three games after losing 6-2 to Philipsburg-Osceola in its first outing.
Frye was the starter and loser, striking out five in 2-1/3 innings. He gave up four hits and five runs, three of which were earned. Lombardo, Justin Kanouff and Jimmy Jordan also pitched.