CLEARFIELD — With both starting pitchers for DuBois and Clearfield throwing gems on Wednesday night in the opening round of the Jefferson County League playoffs, the game was going to come down to either a clutch hit or a mistake.
Unfortunately for DuBois and starter Colin Read, it was the latter.
A balk in the bottom of the sixth inning, brought home the only run of the game and gave Clearfield the 1-0 victory.
“This is a tough way to lose,” said DuBois head coach Chuck Ferra. “Colin pitched his butt off. Both kids pitched well. It was just tough to see a very questionable call and leave it at that.
“We didn’t put enough hits together.”
With the game scoreless through five and a half innings, back-to-back singles by Clearfield’s Eli Glass and Will Myers put runners on the corners with two outs.
As Read went to throw his third pitch to Jake Sorbera, Myers took off running, catching Read off guard. He balked, allowing Glass to come home for the only run of the game.
“I called a straight steal and he just left a little early,” said Post 6 head coach Sid Lansberry. “He caused the pitcher to balk. And it definitely was a balk, I don’t think there was any question about that.
“We do have a play like that, but Will thought he saw his leg move, so that’s why he took off. Sometimes you just get lucky.”
Sorbera grounded out to end the frame, and Clearfield starter Brandon Orsich, who threw just 58 pitches through six innings, retired DuBois in order to set the final.
Orsich retired the first two batters quickly, before Nick LaBrasca stepped up to the plate. LaBrasca had a 1-2 count when an inside pitch hit the knob of LaBrasca’s bat and the top of his finger.
The umpire ruled the ball was a foul and LaBrasca eventually flew out to center to end the game.
Orsich finished the game by allowing just two hits and a walk. He also struck out five Post 17 batters and threw just 73 pitches.
“Luckily, they made the mistake,” said Lansberry. “Whenever Read pitched against us the last time, we had the same trouble with him. He throws off-speed stuff and it’s hard to square the ball up. He keeps us offbalance. He is a good pitcher.
“Both pitchers were excellent today. Neither one deserved to lose. Unfortunately, they made one mistake that cost them.
“Two hits and 73 pitches? That’s a pretty good game right there. Brandon knows how to pitch. Both kids do.”
And while Orsich pitched masterfully, so did Read, who threw just 70 pitches through six innings.
Read allowed six hits and two walks and got several big plays behind him.
Post 17 had its best chance to score in the top of the first, as Mitchell Ferra singled into center before LaBrasca drew a walk.
But a Ryan Pasternak grounder turned into a double play for the Chiefs, ending the threat.
DuBois didn’t put a runner on again until the bottom of the sixth, when Drew Buskirk blistered a ball into centerfield for a double with two outs.
Noah Schneider hit a hard liner that went off Orsich’s glove and ricocheted right to second baseman Justin Fedder, who flipped to Seth Bumbarger at first for the final out of the frame.
“Drew hit the heck out of the ball today,” Ferra said. “He got that double and we thought we were in good position there. We brought in Braden (Paulienellie), who is hurt, as a pinch runner and we thought we were in a good position to get a run. It didn’t happen.
“Hats off to Brandon. We did hit the ball, it was just right to everybody. They did a great job fielding the ball.”
Clearfield also had several chances on the day, putting runners on in every inning but the fourth.
“I would’ve never expected to win like that,” Lansberry said. “We had been hitting the ball lately. But good pitching stops good hitting. We played good defense and luckily got the break.”
DuBois’ defense got a 1-2-3 double play in the fifth with the bases loaded, while Read caught Glass trying to steal third in the second.
“That was huge that play there in the fifth inning,” said Ferra. “We got into a couple of jams there and Colin pitched his way out. That’s the way he is. He is a calm kid. You couldn’t have asked for a better outing for that kid. It’s just a tough way to lose a game. He doesn’t deserve a fate like that.
“But we will come back Friday and go from there.”
Clearfield improved to 9-5 on the season and travel to Punxsutawney to face top-seeded Brookville on Friday.