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C-K wins it with base-on-balls with bases loaded

Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski Claysburg-Kimmel's Bella Francona yells to teammate Hayden Lamborn after scoring on a walk off bases-loaded walk to score in the 7th inning.

By Nate Ritchey

nritchey@altoonamirror.com

CLAYSBURG — Every team needs to get contributions from the bottom of their lineup if they want to be successful come playoff time.

On Thursday afternoon, Claysburg-Kimmel got the lift it needed at exactly the right time during its game against Juniata Valley.

With the contest tied, the Lady Bulldogs strung together three hits to open the bottom of the seventh, and then freshman Hayden Lamborn worked a walk to allow Claysburg-Kimmel to claim a 2-1 victory over Juniata Valley in semifinal action of the District 6 Class 2A playoffs.

“The bottom of the lineup has to come through in order for us to succeed in the playoffs,” Claysburg-Kimmel coach Mike Barbarini said. “The top part of our order has been successful all year, and they are going to have off games at times. In this case, the bottom part of our order put us in a position where we could score the run we needed.”

With the win, the Bulldogs (17-3) advance to the championship game on Wednesday against Southern Huntingdon, a 10-0 winner of Marion Center in five innings, at Saint Francis University at 5 p.m.

“This win feels really good,” Lamborn said. “It definitely gives us confidence going into our next game.”

Though both pitchers handled their business in different manners, the Lady Green Hornets’ Madison Belinda, and Lady Bulldog hurler Sierra Walters, got the job done throughout the afternoon.

After Walters shut JV down in the top of the seventh, C-K began its half with Bella Francona, the No. 6 hitter. She wasted no time as she took Madison Belinda’s first pitch and drove it to right field.

McKenzi Black delivered with a shot to right center that was quickly played by JV right fielder Zoe Walters. Francona was on her horse and ended up at third without a throw.

Jessen Poullos laid down a bunt that Madison Belinda fielded but made no throw in order to keep Francona at third. With the bases loaded with Bulldogs and no outs, Lamborn, the No. 9 hitter, saw the first two pitches from Madison Belinda called for strikes.

“Oh, I wanted two strikeouts there. The bunt sort of surprised me a little bit, but it’s a good play on their (Claysburg) part,” Juniata Valley coach Stan Belinda said. “I told them not to throw to first because as soon as we throw to first, they’re going to try to take the run. So, I wasn’t too upset with that.

We got two quick strikes on the No. 9 hitter, and we tried to pick the corner four times in a row, but it just didn’t happen.”

With the count in the Lady Hornets’ favor, Coach Belinda wanted his daughter to try to hit the corner to get a third strike. However, the next four pitches missed as Lamborn walked her way to first, while Francona scored the winning run.

“Bella is a ninth grader that led off the inning with a hit. Then, McKenzi, who has struggled at the plate but has hit better the last couple of games, got a hit and that’s big for us,” Barbarini said. “Then, she (Poullos) couldn’t even bunt at the beginning of the season but she puts a nice bunt down to give us bases loaded.

I was just trying to get through that bottom part of the order so we could get the top part of the order up. But, she (Hayden) succeeded in getting a walk there for the winning run.”

Claysburg-Kimmel got its first run in the first inning when leadoff hitter Emalee Cavender, who was waiting on-deck when the game was won, stroked a single straight up the middle.

She moved to second when JV catcher Ava Allison tried to pick her off at first but the throw sailed into right field. Jenna Helsel moved Cavender to third when she bunted her way on base.

Helsel stole second with Walters up at the plate, before the pitcher grounded out to Madison Belinda to push Cavender across the plate to give Claysburg a 1-0 lead.

Juniata Valley got on the scoreboard in the third when Allison singled to right field. She moved to second on a passed ball and to third on a wild pitch.

Following two strikeouts by Walters and a walk to Taryn Stewart, Allison scored when Walters and catcher Nevaeh Walter got crossed up as the pitch home hit the glove of Walter, deflected off the head of umpire Jim Campbell and went out of play to advance both runners one base.

While Walters finished with 13 strikeouts, the Lady Hornets made the senior work longer for C-K’s outs as they forced her to throw 126 pitches.

“She (Walters) is a strikeout pitcher so she’s going to throw more pitches,” Coach Belinda said. “My pitcher is more get weak contact, keep the ball in the infield and get some pop-ups. That’s what she (Madison) did well today.”

Madison Belinda only struck out one, but she made quicker work of her time in the circle as she need just 82 pitches. She also relied on her defense to get outs behind her since Claysburg puts the ball in play.

“She (Madison Belinda) had some spin to their ball, and she had a nice little drop ball we were swinging over top of,” Barbarini said. “You get in the seventh inning, they’ve thrown a lot of pitches, Sierra has thrown a lot of pitches. They (pitchers) are going to slow down, they are going to make more mistakes and we capitalized on her mistakes in that last inning.”

Game notes: The Lady Bulldogs got two hits from Cavender. … Walters tossed a three-hitter for the second contest in a row for C-K.

JUNIATA VALLEY (1): Allison c 211, Ma. Belinda p 401, Me. Belinda cf 300, Stewart 100, Houck 2b 200, Shuff lf 300, Hartman 3b 301, Rowe 1b 300, Payne dp 300, Walters rf-flex 000. Totals — 24 1 3.

CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (2): Cavender ss 312, Helsel cf 301, Walters p 200, Walter c 200, Claar 1b 300, Francona 2b 211, Black 3b 301, Poullos lf 201, Lamborn rf 200. Totals — 22 2 6.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Juniata Valley 001 000 0–1 3 1

Claysburg-Kimmel 100 000 1–2 6 1

E–Allison, Black. RBI–Walters, Lamborn. SB–Allison 3, Stewart, Helsel, Francona. WP–Walters. PB–Allison 3, Walter 2. HBP–Allison.

PITCHING

Juniata Valley: Ma. Belinda (L) –6 innings, 6 H, 1 K, 5 BB, 2 R, 2 ER, 82 pitches.

Claysburg-Kimmel: Walters (W) — 7 innings, 3 H, 13 K, 4 BB, 1 R, 1 ER, 126 pitches.

Records: Juniata Valley (14-5); Claysburg-Kimmel (17-3).

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