Bedford and Claysburg have been evenly matched all season in the South Division of the Cambria League American Legion, requiring a play-in game to give Claysburg the top seed in the playoffs, so it was no surprise that there was another close battle on Monday in what could have been the finale.
Bedford right-hander Dylan Foor put it all on the line against Claysburg, scattering six hits, striking out seven with two walks as the Hurricanes came from behind for a 5-2 victory that forced a winner-take-all championship game tonight. A berth in Saturday’s Region 7 tournament at Somerset is on the line.
The surprise came later when it was revealed where tonight’s encounter would be played.
Provisions for determining home teams in the playoffs were approved by a vote of league coaches and, because Claysburg has already had three home games in the playoff tourney and Bedford has had just two, tonight’s game is at Bedford.
But immediately after the game, no one knew that for sure.
“Since Thursday when we lost to these guys, we’ve been playing for (today),” Bedford manager Kelbi Berg said. “They’ve responded well each day. They came out and did the job on the field that they needed to do.
“There was a lot of motivation for us; we wanted to get back to Claysburg and beat them on their home turf. This game was sweet, but it will be better to beat them (today) and move on to regionals.”
Berg credited Foor with giving the Hurricanes, who had just four hits, an opportunity to play in today’s game.
“We got a great pitching effort from Dylan Foor,” Berg said. “He battled through the whole game. He got behind in some counts early but was able to settle in towards the end.”
Foor said that he was trying to get ahead in the count.
“I was trying to throw strikes and work my breaking ball and changeup to try to get ground balls and let my defense do their work,” Foor said. “I was hitting my corners and my two-seam (fast ball) was working well.”
Claysburg’s Austin Cunningham led off the game with a double down the right-field line, moving to third on a ground out and scoring on a Kasy Hamm single to put his team ahead 1-0.
Bedford had its big inning in the third as 10 men went to the plate. Ty Black doubled while Aaron Henry and Kody Blevins each singled in the inning.
Bedford also took advantage of two Claysburg errors, two hit batsmen and a balk by Claysburg pitcher Presley Swope to take a 5-1 lead.
“They did a good job of getting me a lead and I settled in and threw strikes,” Foor said.
Cunningham (2 for 4) scored Claysburg’s second run in the fifth with an infield single and a single by Swope (2 for 4) along with a sacrifice fly and a Hurricanes throwing error.
“We had one bad inning there where they scored all their runs,” Claysburg manager Dave Aungst said. “We probably made about four weeks worth of errors in one game, and we beat ourselves. We had runners in scoring position a lot and couldn’t get the timely hit. Two hit batters and a bunt single we knew was coming, and those things aren’t characteristic of us. We just have to turn it around and start anew. The bounces didn’t go our way. We are going to come ready to play wherever they put us to play the game.”