ALTOONA – Altoona completed domination of the eighth annual Curve Classic with an 8-1 victory over Clearfield on a raw Sunday afternoon at the Blair County Ballpark.
The Mountain Lions, beneficiaries of 30 walks, outscored three opponents 35-5 to claim the scholastic baseball tourney title for the fourth time.
Craig McCloskey pitched a four-hitter to snap the Bisons’ five-game winning streak.
The Bisons were unable to maintain the level of play that had gotten them to the finals for the second time in three years.
“It was a combination we didn’t play good defense, our pitchers had trouble throwing strikes and we left too many men on base,” Clearfield coach Sid Lansberry said.
“It’s disappointing, but we played five outstanding games against five good teams. Sometimes it catches up to you.”
McCloskey recorded only two strikeouts, but he had the Bisons popping up to his infielders or skying to the outfielders a total of 12 times.
The junior right-hander was working on a shutout in the sixth inning when Andrew Redden extended his hitting streak to seven games with a leadoff triple to deep right center and scored on Tyler Jacobson’s groundout.
Prior to that, the Bisons did not have a runner reach third base, though they twice had two aboard with one out.
In the second, Matt Lonjin doubled into left center and Justyn Knepp walked, but McCloskey turned Chad Zurat’s comebacker into a force at third and retired Shane Harper on a pop-up.
Pinch-hitters Garrett Samsel and Isaac Butler gave Clearfield (5-2) a glimmer of hope with opposite-field singles. However, Jarrett Fulmer’s well-hit liner to right was caught and Justin Hoffman popped up.
Three Bison hurlers limited the Mountain Lions to six singles, but eight walks and two hit batsmen had them constantly working from the stretch.
The Altoona (4-1) leadoff batter reached base in every inning except the first, and four of them scored.
Jacobson, the Bison starter and loser, departed after three innings on the short end of a 2-0 count. Both runs, one unearned, were scored on two-out infield hits by Nate Clancy in the second and Josh Adams in the third.
“He just pitched Wednesday,” Lansberry said. “He ran out of gas, and we didn’t have any options.”
Jayvee pitchers Derrick Snyder and Ronny Ogden, both sophomores, were called on for their first varsity appearances.
Snyder surrendered two runs in the fourth. He allowed only one hit, an RBI-single by Christian Helsel, but walked three, forcing in an unearned run.
Control problems got and kept Ogden in trouble, too, in the sixth. He issued one free pass and hit two Mountain Lions, who got runs on Matt McDonald’s single, Adams’ bases-loaded walk, McCloskey’s forceout and Tyson Steele’s sacrifice fly.
Lansberry was pleased the Bisons earned the opportunity to repeat the 2008 team’s surprising title run.
“I told the kids I’m proud of them to get this far,” he said. “We just didn’t play our ‘A’ game today. That’s all.”
Clearfield was 6-2 in three trips to the home of the Class AA Altoona Curve and probably won’t return because of its move to the Mountain Athletic Conference next year.
The Bisons face three tough Central Penn League assignments this week, including a rematch with Altoona Thursday in the make-up of an earlier postponement. Williamsport visits the Bison Sports Complex Monday, and the Bisons go to St. Marys Wednesday for a game that also counts in the Northern Allegany League Big School Division.
Clearfield, 4-0 in the CPL and 2-0 in the D9NAL, sits atop both leagues.
CLEARFIELD — 1
Jarrett Fulmer ss 4000, Justin Hoffman rf 3000, Andrew Redden 1b 2110, Derek Danver 2b 3000, Tyler Jacobson p-3b 3001, Matt Lonjin c 3010, Luke Peterson 3b 0000, Derrick Snyder p 0000, Ronny Ogden p 0000, Justyn Knepp dh 2000, Chad Zurat cf 2000, Garrett Samsel ph 1010, Shane Harper lf 1000, Isaac Butler ph 1010, Trevor Flanagan ph 0000. TOTALS: 25 1 4 1.
ALTOONA — 8
Christian Helsel ss 4111, J.R. Gearhart 2200, Jordan Sneed 3110, K.J. Walters c 1100, Matt McDonald rf 3212, Josh Adams 2b 3022, Craig McCloskey p 2001, Trevor Bush lf 1100, Tyson Steele ph 0001, Nate Clancy 3b 2011, Will Walter ph 1000. TOTALS: 22 8 6 8.
Score by Innings
Clearfield 000 001 0 – 1 4 3
Altoona 011 204 x – 8 6 8
Errors – Fulmer 2, Danver. LOB – Clearfield 6; Altoona 10. 2B – Lonjin. 3B – Redden. Sac – McCloskey, Bush, Clancy. SF – Steele. SB – Redden; Helsel, Snead, Adams, Clancy.
Clearfield – Jacobson 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 0 K; Snyder 2/3 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 0 K; Ogden 2-1/3 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.
Altoona – McCloskey – 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K.
HB – Ogden 2 (Gearhart, Adams).
W – McCloskey (2-1). L – Jacobson (1-1).
Umpires – Dave Adams (plate), John Garritano (first base), Steve Oakes (third base).