Four Leaf wins tier title|
Friday, July 06, 2012
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
FRENCHVILLE - After playing through a District 5 Northern Tier 11- and 12-year-old Little League All-Star Tournament chalk full of offense featuring the long ball, Four Leaf Clover and Clearfield changed gears Thursday evening at Voinchet Field.
Matt Collins and Jesse Thompson dueled on the mound, each team had a couple timely hits, and a 10-pitch at-bat may have been the ultimate momentum swing in Four Leaf's 6-5 win that clinched the tier title and moved it to Saturday's District 5 Championship at Bellefonte.
"We're right where we want to be," Four Leaf Clover manager Tim Morgan said. "We've been playing hard.
"When we started tonight, I told the kids this might be a one-run game. It was a great Little League game. There was good pitching, good defense and the kids played their hearts out."
Four Leaf's Thompson tossed 5 1/3 innings in relief of Ty Bender, allowing just two unearned runs on three hits, while striking out eight batters and walking two.
His performance on the mound helped Four Leaf rally from an early three-run hole and his teammates were able to do just enough damage against Clearfield's starter, Collins, to rally for the win.
Collins gave up six runs, but only two were earned, as he scattered seven hits in four innings of work. And he kept Four Leaf's deadly batting lineup in the ballpark as all seven hits were singles.
"Collins pitched a great game," Clearfield manager Dave Learish said. "And Jesse was outstanding. He mixed his pitches and kept us off-balance. Both pitched well."
But while pitching seemed to rule the day, it was Thayne Morgan's 10-pitch at bat in the bottom of the fourth inning that was likely the deciding factor in the game.
After Luke McGonigal singled to open the inning, he moved up on a wild pitch. Morgan followed and quickly got in an 0-2 hole against Collins.
But Morgan battled through the next seven pitches, fouling off four and taking three for balls to work the count full.
"That was a good battle between Matt and Thayne," Learish said. "He's a good athlete. All of Four Leaf's kids are good athletes."
On the 10th pitch, Morgan hit a grounder through the infield that was misplayed and the ball ended up rolling down the right-field line in foul territory. By the time Clearfield retrieved the ball, McGonigal had scored and Morgan was on third base.
Morgan scampered home when he noticed the Clearfield players weren't paying attention to him, giving Four Leaf a 6-4 lead as two runs scored on the error.
Following a scoreless fifth inning, Clearfield looked to rally in the top of the sixth.
With one out, Noah Bloom drew a four-pitch walk off Thompson. Josh Serena followed with a single, putting the tying run on base.
During Matt Ryan's at-bat, a Thompson pitch got away from catcher Zane Morgan, who quickly recovered the ball.
Both Clearfield runners started to advance on what they thought was a wild pitch and Serena was caught in no-man's land between first and second.
Morgan tried to throw Serena out at first, but the ball got away from the first baseman and Ryan came all the way around from second to score, making it a one-run game at 6-5.
Ryan smashed the next pitch back up the middle, but second baseman Micah Heichel made a diving stab of the low liner to rob Ryan of a base hit and probably save the tying run from scoring.
Thompson was able to get the next batter to ground out and the celebration was on for Four Leaf.
"Four Leaf is the better team right now," Learish said. "That doesn't mean if we can shore up our defense, we can't do better against them. We've given up a lot of runs on errors. We haven't been able to solidify our defense and mistakes, whether they are mental or physical, have hurt us."
Clearfield started quickly, scoring three runs off Bender.
With one out, Bender hit Collins with a pitch. Collins moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Noah Rumsky's single.
Michael Ternoway walked and he and Rumsky moved up on a wild pitch.
A Jeremy Learish groundout scored Rumsky, and Eli Glass plated Ternoway with a sharp single up the middle.
Thompson relived Bender with two outs and was able to get out of the inning.
"We were hoping to get an inning from Ty," Morgan said. "We got 2/3, and that's what we needed. If Ty wouldn't have pitched that first inning, we probably wouldn't have had Jesse in the sixth to close it out.
Thompson was nearing the 85-pitch limit in the sixth when he got the final out.
Four Leaf got on the board in the bottom of the second.
A Clearfield error allowed leadoff hitter Thompson to reach base. Dylan Confer hit an infield single and Zane Morgan followed with a sacrifice fly. Another Four Leaf run scored on a passed ball.
Four Leaf took the lead in the bottom of the third inning, scoring one run on a Zane Morgan groundout and another courtesy of a wild pitch.
But Clearfield battled back in the top of the fourth as Serena tripled just under the glove of a diving Kyle Myers in right field. An error on the play allowed Serena to score after sliding into third with his triple.
That set the stage for Thayne Morgan's key, fourth-inning at bat.
McGonigal and Thompson each had two hits for Four Leaf Clover with Serena and Rumsky both had two for Clearfield. Rumsky also tossed a perfect inning of relief, needing just 12 pitches to strike out the side.
Four Leaf is back in action Saturday at 6 p.m. at Southern Tier champion Bellefonte
If Bellefonte, which is undefeated in tournament play, wins, it will be the District 5 champ. If Four Leaf wins, it forces a winner-take-all game Sunday at Voinchet Field.
Sorbera ss 4000, Collins p-cf 2100, Rumsky cf-p 2121, Ternoway 1b 2100, Learish lf 2001, Porter lf 1000, Glass 3b 3011, McGinnis rf 0000, Bloom rf 1100, Serena c 3120, Ryan 2b 2000, Coval 2b 1000. Totals: 23-5-5-3.
Four Leaf Clover-6
McGonigal 3b 3120, T. Morgan cf-1b-2b-1b 3100, Bender p-1b-rf-1b-rf 3110, Pilosky rf-cf 3110, Thompson 1b-p 3220, Confer ss 2110, Z. Morgan c 2002, Heichel 2b 1000, Myers rf 1000, Dixson lf 2000, Emigh lf 1000. Totals: 23-6-7-2.
Score by Innings
Clearfield 300 101-5 5 3
Four Leaf Clover 022 20x-6 7 2
Errors-Sorbera, McGinnis, Ternoway; Myers, Morgan. LOB-Clearfield 5, Four Leaf Clover 6. 3B-Serena. SF-Z. Morgan. SB-Confer, Z. Morgan, Thompson. HBP-Collins (by Bender); Heichel (by Collins). WP-Collins 4; Bender 2, Thompson 1. PB-Serena 2.
Clearfield: Collins-4 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO; Rumsky-1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO.
Four Leaf Clover: Bender-2/3 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 SO; Thompson-5 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO.