DuBOIS —The DuBois American Legion baseball team moved over the .500 mark Tuesday with a thrilling, 7-6 walk-off victory over visiting Clearfield at Showers’ Field.
DuBois (5-4) had just nine players for the game and was forced to start a handful of players at positions they have rarely, if ever, played. That issue was compounded when starting catcher Ethan Long severely rolled his ankle at second base in the bottom of the second.
Long stayed in the game but was forced to move to first base, which made DuBois manager Chuck Ferra and his staff shuffle further an already makeshift defensive alignment. part of that switch saw Nick LaBrasca move from first to third, Drew Buskirk go from second to catcher and Mitchell Ferra move from center to second.
Despite all that defensive shuffling, DuBois committed just one error and held the lead for a vast majority of the game. DuBois used a four-run bottom of the second to take a 5-2 lead and eventually led 6-3 entering the seventh.
However, Clearfield rallied against starter Noah Schneider in the seventh inning and plated three runs on four hits to even the score at 6-6. The four hits in the seventh matched the total Schneider had allowed through six innings. He struck out seven on the day and walked two.
DuBois wasn’t going to be denied Tuesday though, and responded quickly after Clearfield’s big seventh inning.
Drew Bankovich led off the bottom half of the seventh with a single to center — his third hit of the day. Ferra then bunted Bankovich second, where he raced home with the winning run on a walk-off single to left by LaBrasca.
Bankovich dove head-first into home around Clearfield catcher Allan Myers, who had a throw to the plate skip past him on the turf. The game-winning hit ended what was otherwise a tough day at the plate for LaBrasca, who was 1-for-5 with two RBIs. Bankovich finished 3-for-3 with a triple, RBI and three runs scored.
“I was real confident with who we had coming up (in seventh),” said DuBois manager Chuck Ferra. “I knew Drew was going to hit, and he gets on, and Mitch put down the bunt and moved him over. Then Nick comes up — and he was due — and he clutched up and got a big hit there and won the game for us.
“That was a real good win with what we had today though. We had good guys here, but I looked a the end of the game and I think we had one guy — Schneider pitching — in his normal spot.
“Drew Buskirk caught for the first time since Little League I think, and he did a good job back there. Ethan hurt his ankle but toughed it out and stayed in and we moved him to first and Nick (LaBrasca) to third. Then everybody else moved around and Mitch (Ferra) came in and played some infield.
“I was happy with the guys who were here. They sucked it up and did what they needed to do to win. We left a lot of guys on base, and that concerned me at first. But, Noah Schneider pitched great, and that’s what we needed out of him with a long week with games Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and a doubleheader on Sunday.”
DuBois jumped on Clearfield starter Will Myers for a run in the bottom of the first.
Bankovich led off the inning with a walk and went to second on a single to right by Ferra. However, Myers got LaBrasca to hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Pasternak picked up his teammate though and ripped a single to center to score Bankovich to make it 1-0.
Clearfield answered right back with two runs in the top of the second to take the lead.
Allan Myers opened the inning with a single to center, while Will Myers walked. Brandon Orsich then pushed a punt past Schneider on the third base side that went for a hit to load the bases.
Jake Sorbera scored a run with a fielder’s choice before he and courtesy runner Zane Morgan pulled off a double-steal, with Morgan stealing home on the throw to second to make it a 2-1 game.
Schneider stopped the damage there with a pair of strikedouts to end the inning.
Clearfield’s lead proved to be short-lived as DuBois countered with its four-run bottom of the second.
Long beat out an infield to start the inning, then Schneider hit a comebacker to Will Myers on what looked like a possible double-play ball. But, Myers’ throw to second went into center field.
Long reached second safely, but rolled his ankle in the process. He stayed on the ground for a while but ultimately stayed in the game but was quickly erased at third on a fielder’s choice hit by Buskirk.
Brendon Foley followed with a single to center that chased home Schneider, while Buskirk scored on a single to center by Bankovich. After Ferra walked, LaBrasca pushed a run across on another fielder’s choice, while Bankovich scored on an error to put DuBois up 5-2 after two innings.
Clearfield got one of those runs back in the fourth.
Allan Myers led off the inning with an infield single — a ball that Foley nearly made a leaping catch on but had the line drive pop out of his glove. Will Myers then reached on DuBois’ lone error of the game to put two Chiefs in scoring position.
Schneider then helped his own cause as he snagged a hard comebacker off the bat of Orsich and fired home to get courtesy runner Cade Walker for the first out.
Sorbera then scored Will Myers with a sacrifice fly to center to cut the DuBois lead to 5-3, but that’s all Clearfield could muster in the inning.
DuBois got that run right back in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with one out on singles by Pasternak and Peter Foradora and a walk by Long. Pasternak, Foradora and Long each had two hits on the day.
Schneider scored Pasternak on a groundout, but Will Myers stranded the other two runners in the inning to keep it a 6-3 game. Missed opportunities plagued DuBois throughout the game, as it stranded 12 runners compared to just six for Clearfield.
Clearfield got a leadoff double from Seth Bumbarger in the sixth but couldn’t score, while DuBois left the bases loaded in the bottom half of the sixth.
The Chiefs carried that momentum into the seventh and tied the game with three runs. The rally was capped by a two-run single from Reese Wilson and RBI double by Bumbarger.
That set the stage for DuBois’ heroics in the bottom of the seventh.
The two teams play again this evening at Showers Field as part of a busy final week for DuBois, which also hosts Punxsy-Brookville on Thursday and Curwensville on Friday. DuBois closes out its regular season with a doubleheader in Punxsutawney on Sunday.