ALCOLA — Putting a 13-0 season to bed last Thursday, the New Bethlehem Junior Little League baseball team captured the Clarion County playoff title with an 8-3 win over A-C Valley at Redbank Valley Municipal Park.
New Bethlehem jumped out to an 8-0 lead after three innings and used the combination of pitchers Owen Clouse, Breckin Minich, Kaeden Neiswonger and Ty Carrier to secure the win.
“Pitching was our biggest strength all year,” Newbie manager Alan Clouse said. “We have five pitchers who could take over any game, so our plan was to use them all and mix speeds. A-C Valley brought in a 15-year-old in the third who was probably one of the best pitchers we saw this year and we responded by scoring four runs on him.”
And to wrap up a season that was at many points doubtful, playing well was the icing on the cake.
“We were just glad to be able to play,” Clouse said. “Many areas were unable to even have teams this year, so to play a full schedule and go undefeated was tremendous. Despite a three-month layoff, these boys showed up to play and worked hard.”
Setting the tone early, Newbie scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Ashton Kahle singled, stole second and went to third on an errant throw into the outfield and scored when the throw from center to third flew out of play. Breckin Minich singled and stole second before scoring on Mason Clouse’s single. Clouse scored after stealing second and scoring on his brother Owen’s single. Two more stolen bases by Owen Clouse got him to third where he scored from on Ty Carrier’s groundout.
Four more runs in the third completed Newbie’s output for the night. Three straight walks to Minich, Owen Clouse and Drew Byers set up Carrier’s two-run single. With two outs, Hayden Rearick singled in Byers and Carrier.
Carrier worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth with no outs, giving up just one run. He closed the seventh as well, clinching Newbie its playoff title.