PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” Punxsutawney reigned victorious as they beat the Clearfield Chiefs 14-4 Sunday night in American Legion ball.
A seven-run first inning proved to be just the ticket for Punxsy, as the Chiefs were unable to stage any sort of comeback.
"We jumped out quick in the first inning, and we kinda never looked back after that," Punxsy manager Mike Dickey said. "It was a good win for us. We were patient when we needed to be patient, and we were aggressive when we needed to be aggressive."
The Punxsy team totaled 14 runs on 15 hits and only struck out three times on the night. Punxsy's offense was led by Joe Pisano, who was 3-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs.
Punxsy's Brayden Pennington was the first to cross home plate as he was able to steal the run off a wild pitch by Clearfield's starter Ronny Ogden.
The first earned run was hit in by Pisano, who singled to right field allowing Ty Zimmerman to run home. Brody Lowmaster had two RBIs during the first inning as he hit a single to deep right field, running in Pisano and Zak Dickey.
During the second inning, the Punxsy offense was kept quiet but it roared again in the third.
Lowmaster and Pennington both scored after Zimmerman hit a sacrifice fly to center field, increasing Punxsy's lead to nine.
Pisano continued to build upon that lead as he hit a triple, allowing Jordan Mesoraco and Tyler Skerkavich to score. The scoreboard read 11-0 before the end of the third.
During the top of the fourth, Punxsy's starting pitcher Skerkavich was replaced by Dane Baker.
Manager Dickey said there was several reasons for pulling Skerkavich, despite the fact that he had only given up three hits and no runs.
"Brody was struggling, to be honest," Dickey said. "He was behind a lot of hitters, and he walked a couple of guys there in that (third) inning. ... But I wanted to get Dane some work. It's been awhile since he's thrown as well, so he needed some work."
Baker had a strong first inning, giving up only one hit, and Punxsutawney's offense continued to help, as they scored two more runs in the fourth.
Spencer Levy got into scoring position after hitting a double to left field, and he was helped home by Zimmerman's single. Pennington also scored for the third time on the evening, increasing Punxsy's lead to 13.
Just when it seemed like the game was over, Clearfield began to make a push.
"We were down 13-0 in the fifth inning, and the game was just about over," Clearfield manager Sid Lansberry said. "Our kids could've quit, but they played and came back and stayed in the game."
Clearfield's Derrick Davert was their first runner to score as Ogden singled with the bases loaded. Andrew Redden then crossed home plate, continuing the surge for Clearfield. The designated hitter Steve Miller ran home two batters as he hit a grounder straight up the third base line, allowing Wes McGarry and Ogden to score.
The small comeback proved to be too little, too late, though, as Punxsy managed another run in the bottom of the fifth and Clearfield was unable to continue its offensive prowess.
"The game was lost in the first inning," Lansberry said. "We gave up all those runs, and it was tough to come back. But we played seven innings. There's not a whole lot you can do. It's just personal pride; they don't want to get shut out, and I'm proud of that."
With just one left in the regular season, it is becoming likely that Punxsy will face Clearfield in the first round of the playoffs. Punxsy, who improved their record to 6-4 with the win, will most likely be seeded second for the postseason.
Lansberry did not seem overly concerned with the playoffs, as both Clearfield and Punxsy have heavy schedules this week.
"It's too early to worry because we still have a lot of games to play," he said. "But Punxsy's been tough on us, but if we have the right pitcher throwing, we can be competitive."
Dickey said that he wasn't too concerned with who his team's opponent will be in the first round, but he did have some worries about drawing Clearfield.
"We know we didn't see their best pitcher tonight, so we're going to have to play well to win," Dickey said.View more articles in: