CLEARFIELD — If the Clearfield American Legion Post 6 baseball team is to advance out of the Jefferson County League Championship Playoffs into the Pennsylvania Region 7 Tournament, it will have to do it the hard way.
No. 3 seed DuBois dropped the regular season runner-up Chiefs into the elimination bracket by riding a five-run first inning to a 6-5 win at the Lawrence Township Recreation Park diamond Tuesday evening.
The Chiefs, 10-5-1 after two losses in a row for the first time, will begin the comeback trail Thursday with a 6 p.m. game against Curwensville, which was whitewashed 12-0 by regular season champion Punxsutawney in the other winner’s bracket semifinal. The Bucks had received a forfeit from Marion Center in what was supposed to be a play-in game Monday.
DuBois did all the damage in the first frame after Hunter Dixon got outs on his first two pitches.
Eric Schneider rapped a hit through the right side and Garrett Prosper laced a single to right. Both moved up a base when Clearfield committed back-to-back errors on the throw to third base and then scored when Justin Swauger drilled a single to center.
Swauger went to second on the throw home, advanced to third on an infield hit by Jordan Frano and stole home when courtesy runner Nate Farrell was caught in a rundown after being picked off by Dixon.
Clearfield failed to get the third out because of a dropped ball as Farrell retreated to first. That proved costly as Jeremy Krise drew a free pass and Alex Pasternak walloped a double to deep left field to drive in the final two runs.
Dixon then retired 10 consecutive batters and held the visitors to just three more hits over the last six innings.
One was a sixth-inning RBI double by Swauger to right center that chased home Schneider with what proved to be the deciding run. Schneider had reached base on Clearfield’s fourth misplay.
Dixon wound up allowing only two earned runs while striking out six and walking four in only his second loss in seven decisions.
“The defense kind of let him down a little bit in the first inning,” Clearfield manager Sid Lansberry said. “After that, I thought Hunter pitched a good game.
“He pitched his usual game. He’s not gonna strike out a lot of people. He gave up some hits, but we also made some mistakes defensively, mental things.”
The Chiefs made it interesting with three runs in the third frame.
A single by Blake Prestash and walks to Morgen Billotte and Nate Barr filled the sacks and, with two outs, Eli Glass walked to force in a run before Seth Bumbarger lined a single over short for two RBIs, the fourth time he’s done that in the last five games.
“We needed one more hit there, and we were on our way,” Lansberry said. “Then, the momentum changes. But we didn’t get it.”
Singles by Billotte and Hayden Williams and a sacrifice fly by Glass made it 5-4 in the fifth.
Down 6-4 in the seventh, the Chiefs had the tying runs in scoring position with no outs as Nolan Barr and Prestash rolled singles into left field and advanced on a passed ball.
Billotte plated Barr with a sacrifice fly to right, but winning pitcher Dayne Bauman induced two groundouts to send DuBois (8-5) to the winner’s bracket final at Punxsutawney Thursday evening.
“We made a good comeback, just too little too late,” Lansberry said.
Bumbarger and Prestash each had two of Clearfield’s seven hits off Bauman, who had one strikeout while issuing three walks.
DUBOIS — 6
Chandler Ho 2b 4020, Dayne Bauman p 4000, Eric Schneider ss 3210, Garrett Prosper 1b 3110, Justin Swauger lf 3123, Jordan Frano c 3110, Jeremy Krise rf 1100, Alex Pasternak 3b 3012, Cullen Corle eh 2000, Jake Mowrey p 0000, Ethan Spellen cf 2000. TOTALS: 28 6 8 5.
CLEARFIELD — 5
Nate Barr ss 2100, Hayden Williams 3b 4010, Eli Glass cf 1002, Seth Bumbarger 1b 3022, Allan Myers c 3000, Kyle Elensky 2b 4000, Hunter Dixon p 0000, Matt Bailor dh 3000, Nolan Barr lf 3110, Blake Prestash eh 3120, Isaac Durandetta pr 0000, Morgen Billotte rf 1211. TOTALS: 26 5 7 5.
Score by Innings
DuBois 500 001 0 – 6 8 1
Clearfield 003 010 1 – 5 7 4
E – Krise; Williams 2, Dixon, Billotte. PB – Frano; Myers. DP – Clearfield 1 (Elensky, Na. Barr and Bumbarger). LOB – DuBois 5; Clearfield 6. 2B – Swauger, Pasternak; Bumbarger. Sac – Na. Barr. SF – Glass, Billotte. SB – Swauger.
DuBois – Bauman 7 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K.
Clearfield – Dixon 7 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 K.
PO – Dixon (Krise).
W – Bauman. L – Dixon (5-2).
Umpires – Terry Bean (plate) and Rob Murphy (bases).