By Ben Murphy
Clare scored five runs in the second inning of Saturday’s district championship against host Standish-Sterling and cruised from there, winning 9-2.
“It feels real good, the kids are coming around and playing great baseball,” Clare head coach Skeet Colosky said. “They’re a great group of kids to be around. It’s been a fun ride and hopefully it will continue.”
The Pioneers scored five runs in the bottom of the second to lead 5-0, and after the Panthers scored two runs in the top of the third, Clare plated one in the bottom of the inning and three more in the bottom of the fourth to take back control of the game.
Colton Punches was the winning pitcher, tossing all seven innings, giving up two runs, one earned, six hits, 11 strikeouts and one walk.
Logan Emery had a double and a single, James Baer had a triple and two RBI, Brock Swan had a double and an RBI, with Matt Magnus, Punches and Charlie Bugbee all getting one hit apiece.
Clare reached the championship game with a 9-3 win over Harrison earlier in the day.
Hunter Ruby was the winning pitcher, pitching all seven innings and giving up three earned runs on seven hits, nine strikeouts and three walks.
The Pioneers touched Harrison starting pitcher Matt Haskell for four runs in the top of the first inning, and one in the second to lead 5-0. Harrison plated two runs in the bottom of the second to make it 5-2, though Clare added single runs in the third and fourth inning to pull ahead 7-2. Harrison scored its final run in the fifth with Clare tacking on its final two runs in the sixth.
Punches had two doubles and an RBI, Magnus had a double and a single, Ruby had a double and a single and Emery had two singles. Bugbee Baer and Garrett Jenkins all had one hit apiece.
“We pitched very well, both Ruby and Punches pitched well,” Colosky said of the day. “We played good defense and excecuted on offense which was nice.”
Haskell was stuck with the loss for Harrison, pitching five innings, giving up four earned runs on nine hits, four strikeouts, two walks and one hit batter. Zach Anderson pitched an inning of relief, giving up two earned runs on two hits, one strikeout and three walks.
Cody Cooper had two hits and an RBI to lead the Hornet offense, Anderson had two hits, Jacob Patterson had a double, Haskell had a hit and an RBI and Logan Tenwalde had a single. Anderson, Patterson and Allen Poole each scored a run for Harrison.
“I’m really proud of the boys hanging in there and playing a good game,” Harrison head coach Tom Whitfield said. “The game was much closer than the final score indicated. We made made a lot of positive strides this season and showed much improvement between the first game and the last game. For all high school kids who want to participate, we have a summer baseball program on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sunday afternoons.”
Clare continues its season on Saturday at the Pinconning regional against Valley Lutheran, with Cass City and Meridian playing on the other side of the bracket.
“You really hope that we can play another solid day, like we did last Saturday,” Colosky said. “If we do that we have a good chance. Valley Lutheran has a veteran coach and has a solid team. Then depending on who wins we might play Meridian and we can hopefully get revenge for a couple losses earlier in the season.”