Bulldogs overcome slow start
CLAYSBURG – Claysburg-Kimmel got several messages that Thursday just wasn’t its day early on in its District 6 Class A semifinal baseball game against Conemaugh Valley.
The Bulldogs simply ignored them.
Claysburg-Kimmel made three straight errors in the third inning that allowed three unearned runs to score and then had a sure double robbed when Conemaugh Valley’s Patrick Callahan dove onto the hill in center field to catch Zach Cox’s deep blast.
Despite those obstacles, the Bulldogs lived up to their name and fought back to first tie the game at five, and then take control of it with a four-run fourth inning during a 10-7 triumph over the Blue Jays.
C-K will take on Bishop McCort, a 6-3 winner over Portage, in the district final at Peoples Natural Gas Field Thursday at 7 p.m.
“Everybody was nervous, I could tell,” Claysburg-Kimmel’s Trey Claar said. “Before the game, you could tell that we weren’t ourselves. Once we started scoring some runs, you could see it coming back. We started playing our game.”
Things didn’t look good early for C-K.
The Blue Jays scored two runs in the top of the first inning and took a 5-3 lead in the third before Nic Fickes tied the game with a two-run, two-out double in the bottom of the inning.
“There was a lot of fight in both teams, but they out-hit us today, Conemaugh Valley coach Bob Beiter said. “You can’t take anything away from them. They had several bombs. We made some great catches and some great plays, but they are a good hitting team.”
The greatest of those catches came with one out and no one on in the fourth. Cox hit a drive well beyond the football stands in center field but off to the left of the seats. Callahan, who was playing Cox extremely deep, tracked the ball down, realized he had reached the hill and dove for the ball onto the hill while in a full sprint. Callahan came up with the ball and seemed to seize momentum for the Blue Jays.
With the score tied at five, two outs and no one on, Cameron Strayer singled. Devin Weyandt, who finished 0-for-0 with four walks, drew a free pass and then Doug Knisely stepped to the plate and hit a towering fly ball to left field. This time, no one from Conemaugh Township could track it down.
Strayer and Weyandt scored the go-ahead runs. An error allowed Zach Helsel to reach base, and Nathan Musselman hit a two-run single to give Claysburg-Kimmel a 9-5 lead.
“They play well defensively. We hit some shots, but they made some nice plays,” Claysburg-Kimmel coach Justin Harris said. “We just had a couple more timely hits than they did, and now we get to play for a district championship.”
Conemaugh Valley picked up a run in the sixth but left the bases loaded when Corey Kalinyak flew out to deep center.
“It’s a great feeling to be going to the district championship,” Claar said. “It’s going to be a great atmosphere. We just have to treat it like any other game and try to stay calm.”
CONEMAUGH VALLEY (7): Bernouski ss 312, Verno lf 401, Callahan cf 422, Horten 2b 321, S. Vibostok rf 000, Kalinyak dh 410, Furman p 301, Riehl 1b 401, V. Vibostok c 301, Oswalt cr 000, Grecek cr 010, Gill 3b 200. Totals – 30-7-9.
CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (10): Claar 1b 422, Cox p-ss 501, Strayer ss-p 302, Mock cr 010, Weyandt cf 020, Knisely 3b 423, Helsel c 411, Fickes cf 302, N. Musselman 2b 322, Repko rf 400. Totals – 30-10-13.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Conemaugh Valley203 011 0-7 9 2
Claysburg-Kimmel122 401 X-10 13 4
E-Riehl, Gill, Knisely 2, Strayer, N. Musselman. 2B-Fickes, Knisely. 3B-Cox. RBI-Callahan 2, Furman 2, Riehl, Claar, Cox 2, Strayer, Knisely 2, Fickes 2, N. Musselman 2.
Conemaugh Valley: Furman (L), 6 IP, 13 H, 3 K, 7 BB
Claysburg-Kimmel: Cox (W), 4 IP, 4 H, 6 K, 1 BB; Strayer (S), 3 IP, 5 H, 3K, 1 BB.
Records: Conemaugh Valley (16-5); Claysburg-Kimmel (14-5).