Bulldogs fall short against No. 1 seed

HOMER CITY — Claysburg-Kimmel coach Justin Harris said the reason for his team’s season-ending loss Friday was pretty straightforward.

“They had timely hits, and we didn’t,” Harris explained. “In games like this, you get guys on base, and you have to get those timely hits. That’s the name of the game. It’s that simple.”

Claysburg-Kimmel and Homer-Center combined to leave 20 runners stranded on base, but the Wildcats came up with a few big hits to beat the Bulldogs, 6-3, in a District 6 Class 1A semifinal game at First Commonwealth Bank Field.

Claysburg-Kimmel, the No. 4 seed which finished its season with an 8-7 record, took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning but couldn’t hold on against top-seeded Homer-Center.

The Wildcats (18-1) scored one in the bottom of the second and two in the third before Nate Davis smacked a two-run home run over the left-field fence in the fourth to give Homer-Center a 5-2 lead and take the momentum away from the Bulldogs for good.

“We got up early and felt good about things,” Harris said, “then the two-run homer kind of put the nail in the coffin. We just didn’t get those hits we needed.”

Homer-Center tacked on a run in the fifth, and Claysburg-Kimmel scored its other run in the sixth.

“Baseball is all timely hitting,” Homer-Center coach Scott Bauer said. “You get guys on base, and you have to get that hit. We were able to do that, and they were not, and that was the big difference.”

With the victory, the Wildcats advance to the District 6 title game for the second straight year and will take on St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Peoples Natural Gas Field in Altoona. The Wolves, the No. 2 seed, were 7-0 winners over defending champ Juniata Valley in the other semifinal Friday.

“I had a gut feeling that we’d see them,” Bauer said of facing the Wolves. “Their coach told me after we beat them here last year that they’d be in that championship game next year.”

Claysburg-Kimmel used three pitchers Friday, and Homer-Center used four to get through the game.

Tanner Hunt got the start for the Bulldogs and walked five in 1 2-3 innings, but exited when the game was still just 2-1. Kyle Glass pitched 2 1-3 innings in relief and took the loss, and Corey Chamberlain threw the last two innings.

“Tanner’s been consistently wild all year,” Harris said. “That’s his m.o. He doesn’t throw a ton of strikes. He keeps teams off balance, and he’s been doing that his entire career. Tonight, that sort of backfired a bit. He pitched well enough to win, but the whole key was hitting.”

“I knew they had three good pitchers, and we saw them all,” Bauer said. “We were patient. We knew Hunt could get into some trouble and walk some guys, and he did early, but we didn’t capitalize early like we should’ve or could’ve.”

Michael Ginter picked up the win for Homer-Center in relief of starter Cobe Daugherty.

The seven pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts and 14 walks.

Corey Cavalier had two hits for Homer-Center and drove in a run, and Dakota Sunday and Austin Perry each had a hit and an RBI.

Deegan Feather led the Bulldogs with two hits and two RBIs.

“We battled,” Harris said. “I’m proud of these guys. We only lose three seniors, so we’re a young team. The future is bright. We battled until the end, and that’s what these guys have been doing all year. It’s been a crazy rain with the weather and all the rainouts, but that’s one thing about this team is they battle until the end.”

CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (3): Burket c 400, Oakes 2b 201, Hunt p-ss-lf 300, Musselman dh 300, Francona 1b 411, Glass ss-p 310, Chamberlain lf-p 010, Helsel cf 200, Feather rf 302, McCarty 3b 000, Mack pr 000, Totals — 24-3-4.

HOMER-CENTER (6): Rankin cf 201, Sunday ss 301, Cavalier 2b-p 302, Lee 3b 311, Davis dh-rf 311, Saiani rf-p-lf 411, Perry 1b 321, Alcon c 301, Orsargos lf 100, Clevenger ph 100, Daugherty p 000, Ginter p 000, Popovich 2b 000, Miller pr 010, Federinko pr 000, Totals 26-6-9.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Claysburg-Kimmel 020 001 0–3 4 3

Homer-Center 012 210 X–6 9 1

E–Oakes, Feather, McCary, Sunday. 2B — Cavalier. 3B — Saiani. HR — Davis. RBI–Feather 2, Sunday, Cavalier, Davis 2, Perry. WP–Ginter. LP–Hunt. SO–Hunt 2, Glass 3, Chamberlain 3, Ginter 2, Daugherty 1, Saiani 1, Cavalier 1. BB–Hunt 5, Glass 1, Ginter 3, Daugherty 3, Saiani 2.

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