Burket’s five RBIs, good defense carry C-K
CLAYSBURG — Claysburg-Kimmel catcher Canaan Burket plays with an aggressive mindset when he’s behind the plate and when he’s up to bat. Both came into play Tuesday in the team’s District 6 Class 1A quarterfinal game against Saltsburg.
After picking a runner off second base to thwart Saltsburg early in the game, the junior backstop drove in five runs, helping Claysburg to a 13-3 six-inning, mercy rule win over the Trojans.
“He’s aggressive behind the plate. He’s a leader. He’s a kid every coach would love to have,” C-K coach Justin Harris said. “He does things the right way. Always goes 100 percent. He’s a great kid. Does a lot of things for us.”
Claysburg (8-6) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second. Dom Francona, Kyle Glass and Corey Chamberlain each singled to load the bases with no outs and all three came around to score.
R.J. Helsel singled home Francona, and Glass scored on an errant throw from the outfield. Burket’s bloop hit to right center that resulted in a fielder’s choice at second base chased home Helsel.
Saltsburg tied the game with three in the top of the fourth, but the Bulldogs took advantage of a couple Saltsburg errors to immediately regain the lead in the bottom half of the frame.
Burket broke the 3-3 tie with a single to left that scored Chamberlain and Helsel, both of whom reached on throwing errors to open the inning.
Seth Musselman singled home Connor Oakes later in the inning to put the Bulldogs up 6-3.
“That’s been our MO somewhat all year. We battle then make a couple mistakes that cost us,” Saltsburg coach Mark Palmer said.
Claysburg put the game away with a six-run fifth. Burket knocked in Chamberlain and Helsel once again.
“I trust my process. I practice it a lot. I knew those runs were big, and I had to get a base hit,” Burket said. “I look fastball first and then adjust to the curveball. If a fastball comes in the zone, I’m going to hit it.”
Musselman capped the rally with a bases-clearing triple to deep right that made it a 12-3 game.
“Everybody in the dugout was going crazy after that one. That was a big, big hit,” Burket said.
The game ended in the sixth when Oakes drew a bases-loaded walk to put 10-run mercy rule into effect.
“We had the timely hits. Our pitchers got guys out when they need to, and we made the plays when we needed to. That’s what you have to do come playoff time,” Harris said.
Burket and Musselman led the 13-hit attack with three apiece. Helsel finished with two hits and three runs scored. Chamberlain scored three times as well.
The Bulldogs play at top-seeded Homer-Center 4 p.m. Friday in the semifinals with the winner advancing to the district championship game. Saltsburg’s season ends at 8-7.
SALTSBURG (3): Gibbons ss-p 100, Slapinski p-ss-2b 300, Cindric cf 310, Roman 3b-p 100, Yard 1b 110, Grimplin rf 311, G. Bartolini c 302, Hopkins cr 000, Miller 2b-3b 200, Lassick ph 100, Brink 3b 000, S. Bartolini lf 301. Totals — 21 3 4.
CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (13): Burket c 513, Oakes 2b 321, Hunt p-cf 311, McCarty 3b 000, Musselman dh 403, Francona 1b 311, Glass ss-p 311, Mock cr 010, Chamberlain lf-ss-p 231, Harr cr 000, Helsel cf-lf 332, Feather rf 100. Totals — 27 13 13.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Saltsburg 000 300 — 3 4 3
Claysburg-Kimmel 030 361–13 13 3
E–S. Bartolini, Gibbons, Roman, Hunt, Feather, Helsel. 3B–Musselman. RBI–Grimplin, S. Bartolini, Helsel 2, Burket 5, Musselman 4, Oakes. WP–Glass. LP–Slapinski. SO–Slapinski 2, Hunt 1, Glass 2, Chamberlain 1. BB–Slapinski 3, Gibbons 2, Roman 3, Hunt 5, Glass 1.
Records: Saltsburg (8-7); Claysburg-Kimmel (8-6).