Clinton’s Mason Whipp (1), looks to outrun SV second baseman, Lain Zembek, during 5th inning action.
Jeff Pexton-MHTS/PGI Photo
For the second year in a row, the Clinton Warriors are headed back to the NYSPHAA High School Baseball, Class B Final Four.
Today’s 3-2, down to the wire win over Section IV champion Susquehanna didn’t come the way most Clinton wins do, with big offense.
No, today’s New York State Quarterfinal win came on the strength of a very efficient mound outing from junior right hander, Jon Hardy, and well, the Warriors benefited from a little bit of luck.
Hardy allowed a base runner in each inning, except the second and third, but managed to work around it to limit the damage before being relieved by Andrew Hobika, with one out in the seventh inning.
The defending Central Regional Class “B” champs jumped on Susquehanna Valley early today at Onondaga Community College.
Leadoff man, Andrew Taft, drew a walk to open the bottom of the first inning. The big catcher then stole second base.
Alex Dobrzenski hit a sacrifice fly to right, moving Taft to third with one away.
Ian Foxton then stepped in and chopped one to shortstop, deep enough to score Taft, giving Clinton a 1-0 lead, which is the way we’d go to the second.
The game remained 1-0 until the bottom of the third, when it appeared Clinton would break the game open.
With two out and Dobrzenski and Foxton at second and third respectively, Andrew Hobika popped up to shallow left for what fans expected to be a sure out.
The Sabres left fielder dropped the ball, allowing two runs to score and giving Clinton a 3-0 lead, bringing us to the fourth inning.
Susquehanna Valley struck back in the top of the fourth, with a big inning of their own.
Ryan Caroway drew a leadoff walk, followed by a single from Lain Zembeck, putting runners at first and second with nobody out.
Matthew Hassig then tapped a ball back to the mound and Jon Hardy threw him out at first, advancing the runners to second and third.
Jimmy Mitchell stepped in and laced a double to left center field, scoring two and pulling the Sabres to within 3-2. For Warrior fans, you will be relieved to know the Sabers would get no closer.
Both teams threatened late, but each fell victim to base running mistakes, which prevented either from plating another run.
Clinton nearly put the game away in the fifth inning, but two base running errors and smart plays by the Susquehanna Valley defense killed the opportunity.
With no outs and runners on first and third, Taft hit a ground ball to the shortstop, who instead of going for the 6-4-3 double play, threw home to catch the runner on third in a rundown.
The runner on third was tagged out and a quick reaction by catcher, Austin Whited, caught the runner from first in a second rundown.
Andrew Hobika relieved Jon Hardy with one out in the top of the seventh and the senior got the final two outs of the game, the last of which came on a sharply hit ball to Ian Foxton at shortstop, who made a great play to end the contest.
Jon Hardy got the win on the mound, working 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs, on five hits, striking out three and walking two.
Ryan Caroway suffered the loss for SV, which finished their season at 13-10.
Clinton (19-5), will now meet Schalmont (24-1), in a State semifinal game on 6/14 at SUNY Binghamton.
Clinton 3 Susquehanna Valley 2
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Susquehanna 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 5 2
Clinton 1 0 2 0 0 0 X 3 4 2