COLUMBUS — The DuBois Junior League All-Star baseball team opened Section 1 play with a hard-fought 4-0 victory over McLane Wednesday evening at the Columbus Elementary School just outside Corry.
DuBois got a strong combined effort on the mound from Cole Sansom, Chase Husted and Chandler Ho, as the trio combined on a four-hit shutout of the District 1 champs.
Sansom tossed the first four innings, allowing just two hits while striking out four and walking one en route to picking up the win. He was removed in time to keep him eligible to pitch Saturday.
Husted relieved Sansom in the fifth and gave up one hit in two innings of work. He struck out three and hit one. Ho pitched a scoreless seventh, allowing one hit while striking out one.
The trio was backed by an offense that bunched together 10 of its 11 hits in the second through fifth innings and scored single runs in each of those four innings to come away with the win.
Garrett Starr led the DuBois attack, going 3-for-4 with a run scored. Chase Husted and Colby Estrada each finished 2-for-3 with a run score, with Estrada ripping a double. Kolby Franklin added a RBI double, while Brycen Dinkfelt and Trenton Gaffney each had RBI singles.
DuBois now plays Harborcreek tonight at 8 p.m. with a spot in the Section 1 championship game on the line. Harborcreek blasted Oil City, 17-1, in Wednesday’s nightcap.
“That was a tough call going with Cole today,” said DuBois manager Ken Snedden. “But, the old saying, ‘you have to win the first one.’ I had some sleepless nights trying to figure that one out. Then before the game, the guy here said it looks like rain Sunday, so they might do two games on Saturday.
“So, that kind of ended that decision. Now, we can throw him Saturday. We have to get to Saturday any way, whether it’s in the losers’ bracket or the winners’ bracket.
“We also got some clutch hits today and scratched for every run. We need to do a little better with guys on base, but winning this first one was key. That’s why I went with Cole (Sansom).”
While DuBois’ pitching silenced the McLane bats for the most part, the District 10 champs still had to do al ittle work at times to keep McLane off the scoreboard.
McLane got a one-out single from Jaxon Scrutchins in the top of the second, but Sansom promptly picked Scrutchins off first base. Sansom then stranded two runners in scoring position after a throwing error on a one-out sacrifice bunt in the third.
McLane also put two on the fourth — on an error and two-put single —in the fourth against Sansom, but the lefty got Quinn Miller to pop up to Husted at third to end the inning.
DuBois scored all the runs it needed during that same span.
After a scoreless first, the District 10 champs got on the board in the second when Lennon Lindholm started a rally with a two-out double to right-center. Dinklfelt followed with a single to left to plate Lindholm to put DuBois up 1-0.
Estrada kept the inning going with a single of his own, then he and special pinch-runner Tyler Newell pulled off a double steal. However, McLane starter Matt Leehan got out of the inning without any further damage.
DuBois added to its lead with a run in the third.
Starr led off the inning with a single to right and quickly stole second. He scored on a one-out double down the right-field line by Franklin to make it 2-0. Husted followed with a single to right, but Leehan again left two runners on base to limit the damage.
After Sansom worked out of danger in the top of the fourth, DuBois added an insurance run in the bottom half of the inning.
Estrada jump-started the inning with a one-out double to right-center. He took third on a wild pitch and scored when pinch-hitter Trenton Gaffney legged out an infield single.
However, DuBois could muster just a single run again as reliever Brandon Simmons left a pair of runners on base after Starr singled for the third time in the game.
DuBois scored its lone run in the fifth to extend its lead to 4-0.
Husted led off the fourth with a single to left and hustled into second on a throwing error back into the infield. Husted advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on the same play when McLane’s catcher misfired back to the pitcher.
McLane tried to counter in the sixth, as Leehan smacked a leadoff single against Husted and Simmons was hit by a pitch. But, Husted dug deep and recorded three straight outs, ending the inning by striking out Beau Caro looking.
McLane also got a two-out double from Ian Kennedy in the top of the seventh against Ho, but Ho promptly struck out Jackson Spires looking to end the game.