CLEARFIELD — After five years in the Central Penn League, the Clearfield American Legion Post 6 baseball team is returning to the Jefferson County League and will open the season by hosting DuBois Thursday evening.
The JCL, which was organized in the 1970s, disbanded in 2012 when Reynoldsville dropped out because of a lack of players and managers of the four remaining teams voted not to continue play with so few entries, according to Clearfield skipper Sid Lansberry.
With the option of switching to the Central Penn League or the Indiana County League, Clearfield and DuBois moved to the CPL and Punxsutawney to the ICL, while Brookville shifted to the Clarion County League.
John Weise, Commander of Pennsylvania American Legion Baseball, brought up the revival of the JCL with Region 7 director Doug Walker of Westmoreland County last fall, Lansberry noted.
“Walker asked me to see who was interested,” he said. “Initially, it was gonna be six teams, but Brockway decided to stay in the Elk County League, and then Punxsutawney did not have enough players, so those who wanted to play joined up with Brookville.
“Hopefully, Punxsutawney will have a team next year.”
Rounding out the four-team circuit will be Curwensville, which has a team for the first time since 2009 thanks to Curwensville Area High School coach Tom Harzinski.
“To Harzinski’s credit, he’s been able to get this going again,” Lansberry said. “In the past, Curwensville had trouble getting enough players, but Harzinski has a full roster.”
Curwensville was on Clearfield’s schedule for Sunday, but that game will be postponed because of the District 9 champion Clearfield Area High School team’s first-round game in the PIAA Class AAAA Tournament Monday.
Clearfield finished 15-10 in the CPL last year, and Lansberry goes into his 21st season as manager with 10 players back who appeared in at least 16 games.
“We have a mixture of veterans and younger players, so I think we should be fairly solid,” he said. “In summer ball, there’s no set lineups because of vacations and other family commitments, so the young guys are gonna get some opportunities for valuable playing time that they you really can’t give them during the high school season.
”We have quite a bit of pitching and if we continue to hit like the high school team has recently, we should do fairly well offensively.
“The wood bats always make a big difference, keeping the score down and making the games go faster. Wood bats just make it a better baseball game with more bunting and running and things like that. It’s a better defensive game, too.”
Hurlers who registered all but one of one of the Chiefs’ on-the-field wins make up the core of the deep mound staff.
Brandon Orsich, who pitched for Penn State DuBois in the spring, was the ace with a 7-2 record, a 1.83 earned run average and 70 strikeouts in 65 innings.
His nine starts were the most, while Bryce Timko (1-3, 3.73 ERA) had five, Jake Sorbera (3-2, 3.07 ERA) had four and Will Myers (2-1, 2.85 ERA) had three.
Bolstering that crew will be Tommy Hazel, who sports a 3-1 record and two saves with a 1.40 ERA for the high school team, and Eli Glass, who owns a 3-2 log and a 4.70 ERA for the Bison.
Timko, who also plays first base, was one of the top hitters last summer at .318.
Catcher-outfielder Ty Bender was the Chiefs’ leader in batting average at .358 and hits with 24, including 12 doubles and one home run. He drove in 10 runs.
Middle infielder Thayne Morgan also finished at .318, while outfielder Reese Wilson made the 300 Club at .308 with 11 RBIs.
Also returning are second baseman Justin Fedder (.289, 22 hits), catcher Zane Morgan (.254) and outfielder Alec Graham.
Myers (.250) topped the Chiefs in RBIs with 13, and Sorbera had 10.
The Chiefs have three other Bison starters in first baseman Seth Bumbarger, who hit .286 in eight games last year, and newcomers Hazel in left field and Glass on the left side of the infield.
Clearfield will play the other teams five times apiece for a 15-game JCL slate that runs through the end of the month, with the playoffs set for July 5 through 9.
Lansberry would like to add some non-league games for the Chiefs, who will host the Region 7 Tournament July 15-19 at the Lawrence Township Recreation Park diamond with the Bison Sports Complex the secondary field.
They’ll play their opener at the BSC.
Nate Barr, 2b, of; Ty Bender, c, of; Seth Bumbarger, 1b; Justin Fedder, 2b; Eli Glass, p, ss, 3b; Alec Graham, of; Tommy Hazel, p, of; Hunter Hipps, p, of; Thayne Morgan, ss, 2b; Zane Morgan, c; Allan Myers, lf, 1b; Will Myers, p, ss; Brandon Orsich, p; Harrison Peacock, 3b, ss; Jake Sorbera, p, of; Bryce Timko, p, 1b, of; Cade Walker, p, of; Reese Wilson, of, p.
The schedule, with home games in capitals and all starting at 6 p.m.:
1 – DUBOIS; 4 – CURWENSVILLE; 6 – at Brookville; 8 – DUBOIS; 9 – at Curwensville; 13. – BROOKVILLE; 15 – at DuBois; 17 – CURWENSVILLE; 18 – at Brookville; 20 – DUBOIS; 22 – at Curwensville; 25 – BROOKVILLE; 27 – at DuBois; 29 – CURWENSVILLE; 30 – at Brookville.
5-9 – Jefferson County League Playoffs; 15-19 – Pennsylvania Region 7 Tournament.