Claysburg solidified its ranking as the top-seeded team in the Cambria American Legion League this season with a 15-5 victory over visiting Bedford in seven innings on Wednesday in the winner-take-all championship game.
“This has been a couple years coming,” Claysburg coach Dave Aungst said.
“The last couple years we got knocked out at the end and we’ve been working very hard for this. We’ve got a lot more goals ahead of us that we want to accomplish and this is step two after we won the regular season.
“I’m very proud of the boys. They came today and played a good game.”
Both Bedford and Claysburg advance to this weekend’s Region 7 Tournament in Clearfield with the Hurricanes playing the Westmoreland County winner, Unity Township, and Claysburg facing the Westmoreland No. 2, Irwin.
On Wednesday, Claysburg pounded out 16 hits which included three doubles, one each by Nick Hoenstine, Austin McMonagle and Mike Mock.
“We talked throughout the year about being patient at the plate,” Aungst said. “When we had nine guys at a lot of games, they were trying to do too much. With everybody here today, they stayed within themselves and made the pitcher throw good pitches and they were all over them when they got good pitches.”
McMonagle also gave Claysburg four innings on the mound, surrendering three runs on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts. T.J. Swope came in to relieve McMonagle in the fifth and sixth. Zach Cox got Claysburg out of a bases-loaded jam with the tying run at the plate in the seventh and ended up with the save.
“We got good a lot of good pitching today,” Aungst said. “Austin is one of our big workhorses and today was no different. To their credit, they did a good job and got a couple of runs off of him after we got the lead. But he stayed composed and did well.”
Claysburg put five runs on the board in the first inning, sending 10 batters to the plate.
“We have a lot of respect for the pitcher they had out there today that started the game,” Aungst said about Bedford hurler Eric Grace. “Eric Grace Is a great kid and a great pitcher and for us to come out swinging like that and jump on him early gave us a lot of confidence and a chance to play our game and be aggressive on the bases and do a lot of the little things.”
The Hurricanes (21-5) cut into the lead in the second inning.
Grace singled and went to third on Austin Montgomery’s double to right center field. Grace and Montgomery scored on an Isaac Kline double to center. Kline was plated on a Claysburg error, but the Hurricanes left the bases loaded in the frame.
Five errors plagued Bedford and one of those in the bottom of the second allowed Hoenstine to reach base, scoring on McMonagle’s double. McMonagle stole third and scored on a Kasy Hamm single to increase the Claysburg lead to 7-3.
Claysburg added a run in the fifth and each team had one in the sixth for a 9-4 score.
Bedford put another run on the board in the seventh when Dylan Downs was hit by a pitch and Grace singled him to second. Montgomery’s second double of the game plated Downs.
Swope walked Kline to load the bases, bringing in Cox, who registered a strikeout then saw his defense end the inning with a double play, Claysburg’s second of the game.
In the bottom of the seventh, Claysburg put sixth runs on the board, including the gamewinner by Mike Mock on an error.
“We used teamwork and hustle to win this game today,” said Hoenstine, who scored four times for Claysburg. “We run the bases and get hits when we can. When I’m on base, I try to score.”
Hamm finished 3-for-4, Mock was 2-for-3 and scored three times, while Jay Stern was 2-for-4 and Cox was 3-for-5.
“They did a good job of finding spots to hit the ball where we weren’t today,” Bedford coach Jordan Mills said. “I like the way we battled to get back in it, but we had some mental mistakes. You can’t win ball games with mental mistakes. We left a lot of guys on base. Lady Luck wasn’t on our side where we hit the ball.”
Kline was 2-for-3 while Grace and Montgomery were both 2-for-4 for Bedford.
Cory Isenberg is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter @CoryIsenbergTD.