By Ben Murphy
It was one heck of a rally. It still wasn’t enough. The Clare baseball team trailed Pinconning 4-0 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning in Saturday’s division three district semi-final in Beaverton, but came back to score four runs and force extra innings. Clare’s magic ran dry from there however, as The Spartans came back to score one run in the top of the eighth and hung on for the win in the bottom half.
“I did like our rally late,” Clare head coach Skeet Colosky said. “It’s good to see a team not give up when their backs are against the wall.”
Clare starting pitcher Colton Punches gave up three unearned runs in the first two innings as the Pioneers fell behind 3-0, but Punches settled down from there, keeping the Spartans off the board until a hit batter eventually came in to score in the top of the seventh, making it 4-0.
However, Pinconning starting pitcher Jacob Backus kept the Pioneers off the scoreboard, giving up six hits, struck out five and walked two through six innings.
In the bottom of the seventh, Clare had a ground-out and a fly-out to start the inning, but Charlie Bugbee got hit by a pitch, to get the Pioneer rally going.
Matt Magnus followed that with an infield hit and Logan Emery drove in a run with a hit up the middle.
Gabe Denton continued the streak with an RBI single of his own and Camden Dice walked to load the bases.
Then, after a pitching change brought Joshua Fiebke into the game, Punches dropped in a hit to right field that scored two runs to tie the game at 4-4.
Pinconning’s lead-off man singled to start the top of the eighth inning and came in to score three batters later on a hit to center field.
Bugbee once again got on with two outs in the bottom of the eighth with a single, but the Pioneers couldn’t spark another rally.
Punches suffered the loss, pitching all eight innings while also adding three hits on offense.
“He pitched well enough to win, we just did not have the run support early and also some mishaps on defense did not help us in the early going,” Colosky said. “Sad to see the season over, we had a lot of good times along the way.”
The Pioneers finish 22-9 overall and 11-3 in the Jack Pine Conference.