DUBOIS, Pa. – The last time the Clarion baseball team won a playoff game it did it with a shutout.
On Thursday, it was another shutout that gave the Bobcats their first postseason victory in six years with a 4-0 blanking of Elk County Catholic in the District 9 Class 1A semifinals.
“It feels great to get to the title game,” the author of that shutout, Devon Lauer, said. “The last two years, we got knocked off in the first round. We want to win it this time.”
Rewatch the game
It hadn’t been just the last two years since Clarion had tasted playoff success.
The Bobcats hadn’t won a postseason game since beating Greensburg Central Catholic, 1-0, in the 2017 PIAA semifinals. Since then, two losses to Clarion-Limestone and two to ECC in its opening playoff game ended Clarion seasons (there was no 2020 season because of the pandemic).
“It feels great,” Clarion manager Rob Jewett said. “I’m really happy for the kids. It’s been a while for us. We make the playoffs every year and get bounced. It was very frustrating. This year we finally put it together. I am proud of how they played today. We put together all three phases of the game and played a really good game and are moving on.”
Lauer, who came into the game with an ERA under 1.00 showed why. He scattered six hits while walking one and striking out seven.
“I was hitting my spots,” Lauer said. “My teammates were defending behind me. They were making great plays.”
After getting into a little bit of trouble in the second inning when ECC put runners on first and second with one out thanks to an error and a single with one out and two more on in the third thanks to an infield single and a walk with two outs, Lauer bore down and retired eight in a row until a David Anderson one-out double in the sixth and 10 of 11 before Wil Wortman led off the seventh with a single.
“I started to hit the outside corner,” Lauer, who was named the Allegheny Grille of Foxburg Player of the Game, said. “He was calling strikes, and I made them roll over with weak contact to the outside. My teammates made the plays.”
Watch Lauer’s full postgame interview
While Lauer was pitching well, his mound counterpart, Isaac Dellaquilla, was keeping the Bobcat hitters off balance.
But Clarion scratched out a run in the second when Tanner Miller led off with a double, was moved to third on a sac bunt by Hayden Weber, and scored on a Daunte Girvan groundout.
Then the Bobcats used two-out lightning to score three times in the fourth.
With runners on second and third and two outs, ECC intentionally walked Dawson Smail, who came into the game hitting .500 and left it hitting .500 after going 1-for-2 with a run scored,
The move backfired when Bryce Brinkley shot a two-run single up the middle, and Noah Harrison followed with an RBI hit to give the Bobcats a 4-0 lead.
Watch Brinkley’s two-run single
“That was huge,” Jewett said of Brinkley’s hit. “That (the intentional walk) was a move I would have done too. Dawson is batting .500. Bryce was able to battle and work the count, and he got a pitch he could drive. We were looking for that clutch hit. It was nice to see him clutch up and then Noah to follow. It is a lot different ball game to pitch in at 4-0 rather than 1-0.”
Miller was 2-for-3 with two runs scored to lead Clarion’s offense, while Lance O’Neill went 2-for-3 for ECC, which beat Clarion, 10-4, April 15 in St. Marys.
Dellaquilla took the loss going four innings allowing four earned runs on six hits and five walks while striking out one. Shawn Geci went two innings allowing a hit while striking out two.
Clarion will take on two-time defending champion and defending PIAA champion DuBois Central Catholic in the championship game at 3 p.m. Monday, May 29, at Showers Field.
DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC 15, A-C VALLEY/UNION 0, 3 innings
PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. – DuBois Central Catholic is back in the D9 Class 1A title game.
Rewatch the game:
Carter Hickman hit a 2-run home run for the defending state champion Cardinals, finishing with five RBIs, and also tossed three shutout innings in a 15-0, 3-inning victory over A-C Valley/Union.
DCC scored 11 runs in the third inning to put the game away.
“We came out and wanted to make a statement,” Hickman said. “We wanted to jump on them early and we didn’t want them to hang around because we’ve seen that during the season, teams stick with us and end up beating us.”
See Hickman’s full interview:
Hickman’s homer came in the second inning as he finished with five RBIs.
DCC got contributions up and down the lineup, as Aiden Snowberger was 3-for-4 with two doubles, three RBIs, and three runs, Brayden Fox was 2-for3- with a double and two RBIs, Kaden Brezenski was 1-for-2 with an RBI, Blake Pisarcik was 3-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and two runs, Carter Himes was 1-for-2 with two RBIs and two runs and Matt Pyne was 2-for-2 with two runs.
Hickman allowed just one hit in his three innings of work, striking out three and needing just 36 pitches.
Sebastian Link took the loss, allowing nine runs (eight earned) in 2 ⅓ innings on 10 hits and two walks.
Caden Burns had the lone hit for A-C Valley/Union.
With the win, the Cardinals will look to defend their title against No. 2 Clarion, a 4-0 winner over Elk County Catholic, in the D9 championship game at 3 p.m. Monday, May 29, at Showers Field in DuBois.