CLEARFIELD – Andrew Redden couldn’t hold or save a victory for starter Kyler Kephart in his first mound appearance of the season, so he did the next best thing for the Clearfield American Legion baseball team Monday evening at the Lawrence Township Recreation Park Field.
The Chiefs’ regular catcher, who had walloped a three-run home run in the first inning, made amends with his bat in the bottom of the seventh, driving a one-out single to deep left center for an 8-7 walk-off win over Altoona that clinched a berth in the Central Penn League Playoffs for manager Sid Lansberry’s club.
Redden’s fourth hit and fifth RBI rewarded Ronny Ogden with the victory for 1-2/3 innings of scoreless, two-hit, two-strikeout relief work and gave the Chiefs an 8-7 finish in the tough West Division.
Clearfield, which returned to the CPL this summer after more than 35 years in the now defunct Jefferson County League, wound up fourth behind DuBois, Philipsburg and State College and will begin the double-elimination playoffs Wednesday with a road game against East Division champion Beech Creek.
When the teams met on June 4, the Crickets broke up Kephart’s shutout bid in the seventh inning to nip the Chiefs 2-1.
Kephart, who kept the Altoona lineup in check when Clearfield rolled 13-2 in five innings two weeks ago, settled down after a rocky start and appeared well on his way to a repeat win over the West cellar dwellers until the sixth frame.
Staked to a 6-1 lead through three innings, he wavered a little in the fourth after retiring six consecutive batters. With two outs, Trevor Arnold’s single and stolen base and Mike Pleva’s bouncer through the left side gave the visitors their second run.
They added another in the fifth with two more hits. Clearfield caught a break when Jake Diviney’s two-out double hopped over the center field fence as Matt McDonald, who had drawn Kephart’s third walk, had to drop anchor at third base.
The Chiefs matched that tally in the lower fifth when Wyatt Westen rolled his third hit into left field, Kephart walked and Redden looped a single to short center for a 7-3 advantage.
However, Altoona chased Kephart in the sixth, striking quickly on Arnold’s double inside third base and Pleva’s liner to left. The latter tried to stretch it into a double but was an easy out on a perfect relay from Curtis Collins to Derek Danver to Cole Kephart.
That defensive gem was magnified when Altoona erupted for three more runs with two outs.
Jaret Berardinelli’s single, the ninth hit off Kyler Kephart, prompted Lansberry to send Redden to the bump.
Two walks later, the call went out to Ogden, who lost his opportunity for a save on McDonald’s two-run single to right that was misplayed and Jake Diviney’s single, his third hit, that knocked in an unearned tally.
Ogden stranded the go-ahead run at third with a comebacker and set Altoona down in order in the seventh to notch his third ‘W’ in five decisions.
Collins battled losing hurler McDonald for a nine-pitch free pass that pushed the left-hander’s count over the 140 mark, Kyler Kephart sacrificed and Danver was intentionally walked to set the stage for Redden’s game-winning rip.
Redden had put the Chiefs on top 3-1 in the first with his homer after Kyler Kephart and Danver had slashed singles into right field.
Cole Kephart led off the second with a blast to center that hit the top of the fence and bounced over for his first homer as a Chief, and bases-loaded singles by Kyler Kephart and Danver made it a five-run spread after three.
Clearfield, which got solid defensive play on the left side of the infield by Coleman Kubala and Danver, carries an overall record of 11-9 into the post-season.
Other first-round games Wednesday will send Clarence to DuBois, Mifflin County to Philipsburg and State College to Bellefonte.
The final regular-season standings announced by CPL statistician Frank Menna of Bellefonte:
West Division – DuBois 9-5, Philipsburg 9-6, State College 9-6, Clearfield 8-7, Hollidaysburg 6-7, Altoona 4-10.
East Division – Beech Creek 11-2, Bellefonte 9-5, Mifflin County 7-7, Clarence 3-10, Penns Valley 0-10.
ALTOONA — 7
Jaret Berardinelli ss 4-1-1-0, Chris Sinisi 2b 3-2-1-0, Travis Baker 1b 2-2-0-0, Matt McDonald p 2-0-1-2, Jake Diviney cf 4-0-3-3, Jake Chesney rf 4-0-0-0, Trevor Arnold lf 4-2-2-0, Mike Pleva c 4-0-2-2, Evan Arnold 3b 4-0-1-0. TOTALS: 31-7-11-7.
CLEARFIELD — 8
Kyler Kephart p-2b 2-1-2-1, Derek Danver ss 4-1-2-1, Andrew Redden c-p-c 5-1-4-5, Jon Janocko 1b 4-0-1-0, Ronny Ogden rf-c-p 4-0-1-0, Zach Timchak pr 0-0-0-0, Coleman Kubala 3b 1-1-0-0, Tanner Ogden cf 4-1-1-0, Cole Kephart 2b-rf 4-1-1-1, Wyatt Westen lf 3-1-3-0, Curtis Collins lf 0-1-0-0. TOTALS: 31-8-15-8.
Score by Innings
Altoona 100 114 0 – 7 11 1
Clearfield 312 010 1 – 8 15 1
Errors – McDonald; C. Kephart. DP – Altoona 1 (Berardinelli, Sinisi and Baker). LOB – Altoona 8; Clearfield 12. 2B – Diviney; Janocko. HR – Redden (3), C. Kephart (1). Sac – K. Kephart 2, Kubala. SB – Sinisi, T. Arnold.
Altoona – McDonald 6-1/3 IP, 15 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 5 BB, 4 K.
Clearfield – K. Kephart 5-2/3 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K; Redden 0+ IP (faced 2 batters in 6th), 0 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K; R. Ogden 1-1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.
WP – McDonald; K. Kephart 1, Redden 1.
W – R. Ogden (4-2). L – McDonald.
Umpires – Sam Bevak (plate) and Dave Neal (bases).