Pizza Pub Claims Clarion Little League Crown | Sports
Pizza Pub Wins Clarion Little League Crown
As trivial as it may seem, sometimes you have to “trust” the process.
That’s basically what Pizza Pub manager Ryan Kemmer asked his players to do as he guided them to the Clarion Little League Championship, which they won by beating the Lions, 9-6 , Thursday night at Paul A. Weaver Park (June 9).
“I told them, ‘Don’t worry about wins and losses in the regular season, we’ll play our best ball at the end. We did it. Down the stretch we went 8-3, we were 0-6 to start,” commented Kemmer, whose team entered the Championship Tournament as the last seed.
“They just kept fighting, improving. That’s what we’ve been working on all year.”
Thursday’s championship tilt was a rematch of Monday night’s (June 6) second-round game, which saw Pizza Pub beat the Lions, 24-3. The victory gave Pizza Pub a place in the title match, while the Lions had to beat Burns & Burns in consolation on Wednesday to earn their spot.
The Lions, playing with the home team on Thursday, drew first blood, taking a 1-0 lead late in the first.
Brody Beggs doubled with one out, taking third on an errant pitch from the outfield. He then scored on a wild pitch to the last batter of the inning.
The clutch throw prevented both teams from scoring in the second. Lions starter Cael Jackson struck out three of four batters he faced in the top half, while Pizza Pub ace Kolen Kemmer scattered two hits and whipped up a pair in the bottom.
A slow-starting Pizza Pub finally managed a pair of runs in the third.
Brady Clinger started with a single, advancing to second then third on wild pitches while Ethan Ferguson, the next hitter, was being walked.
With one out and Ferguson moved to second place, the result of catcher indifference, a wild pitch on Kason Kiehl’s home plate appearance tagged Clinger and lifted Ferguson into third place. Ferguson scored when Kiehl chose midfield, making it 2-1 in favor of Pizza Pub.
The Lions tied the contest, 2-2, on his next at bat. With one out, Tyson Hooks doubled up, taking third on a passed ball as Beggs faced the pitcher. An error on Beggs’ possible grounder brought Hooks on.
Pizza Pub, as he showed he was capable of in his Monday game, exploded against the Lions in the fourth, driving 10 home plate and scoring six.
Mason Strattan and Braden Larson walked in succession, after which the Lions brought in Tanner Love to relieve Jackson.
Pizza Pub’s Keldon Raybuck hosted Love by driving a deep right triple that tagged Strattan and Larson, putting his team ahead, 4-2.
Pizza Pub’s next two hitters, Kemmer and Clinger, received free passes, loading the bases. A single march to Isaac Best followed, bringing everyone up one, including pushing Raybuck across the flat.
After Best walked and with bases still loaded, the Lions handed pitching duties to Hooks.
Kiehl, the first batter Hooks faced, was grounded at shortstop, an off-target pitch to first allowing Kemmer to head home, with Clinger taking third and Best second.
Leading 6-2, Jackson Baker drove Clinger in with a field single, a rap that also sent Best into third place. Best scored Pizza Pub’s last run of the inning, stealing home as Strattan hit for the second time in the inning.
In his team’s fourth inning, the Pizza Pub manager said: “The bottom of the order really helped us, a lot of big hits. We had a hit from Keldon (Raybuck) who gave us a good start.”
Having received an 8-2 lead early in the set, Kemmer seized the opportunity when he then took the mound, sitting the Lions in order, striking out two on strikes.
Pizza Pub was held scoreless in the fifth, the big play to come when Lions first baseman Jackson turned an unassisted double play on a pointy liner after an opening inning walk.
The Lions were also held in check, with Kemmer stoking two more and assisting at first.
Pizza Pub added to their lead in sixth. Clinger started with a single, went to second on a passed fly ball and took third on Ferguson’s fly ball to center.
An infield error on a two-out ground ball from Kiehl was the opportunity Clinger needed to score, giving Pizza Pub its last run of the game and a 9-2 lead.
Although down, the Lions weren’t out, rallying in their next and final at bat.
Hooks doubled from first place, taking third on a delayed pitch from the outfield. Beggs followed with his own brace, scoring Hooks, making it a 9-3 game.
Lucas Ion, the next, reached first on poorly played ground. Beggs jumped on the error, taking third, then scoring on the errant pitch at first, an error that gave Ion second place.
Ion moved up to third as Love hit the pitcher on the ground, later scoring on a passed ball while Jackson was at the plate working the pitcher for a walk.
With one out, Jackson took second place on wild pitch during JC Conticelli’s game at bat, finishing third on a pass-four ball. Lucas Rominiski singled to score Jackson, with Conticelli going third on the hit.
Having reached his pitch limit while walking with another batter, Kemmer surrendered the mound to Clinger, the reliever entering with bases loaded and just one out, Pizza Pub holding a now narrow 9-6 lead.
Clinger was up to the challenge, striking out the first batter he faced, then inducing a ground out, ending the game in favor of Pizza Pub.
“It’s Little League baseball,” remarked the puzzled manager of the Pizza Pub. “We always seem to have a bad run and that was our only bad run.
“It was a great job from them, but we held them back. It was a great job from all the kids.”