HYDE — It was nearly two years since the Bison baseball field saw any batting practices, warmups, or umpires calling balls and strikes. It was 2019 when Clearfield last hosted any game, as a year later their season was stolen from them because of the pandemic. But, Friday afternoon, the Indiana Little Indians made the trip down for a non-league game in front of a crowd that had longed for high school baseball for nearly two years.
What the fans got was something that could only be described as unusual. Both teams dueled as one team would get the lead, the other would answer. One got a bigger lead, and the opposition battled back. Every time one team had an advantage, the other answered. In the end, the winner of the game was…no one. Indiana and Clearfield battled through seven innings, but the skies were not in anyone’s favor. With the heavy cloud cover, sunlight was nonexistent, and both officials and coaches came together at home plate. When the conference ended, fist bumps were given as the officials called the game due to darkness, with the final score as a 5-5 tie.
Clearfield head coach Sid Lansberry saw his kids battle hard, and put a very tough team in a hard spot for most of the game, but afterwards felt horrible that one slipped away.
“We thought we had a win there, but the effort we gave tonight was so much better than last night (against P-O). Really proud of how these kids came back against an undefeated team. It is a good effort on our part, but that’s a good ball club there,” he said.
It was the Little Indians getting on the board first in the second inning as after Branden Yarity blasted a double to center, and Ben Ryan singled to shallow left, Tyler Gonas connected to center to bring Yarity home for the opening run. But Clearfield answered back in the bottom half of the inning, but mainly due to some unearned opportunities.
Karson Rumsky reached on an error, and a trio of walks allowed him an easy path to the plate for the Bison’s first run. One batter later, Cole Bloom managed a fielder’s choice that allowed Hunter Dixon to come home, giving Clearfield a 2-1 advantage.
Dixon himself was having a strong day on the mound, going six innings, and getting out of some tough situations through most of the contest.
Indiana tied the game up in the third as Lincoln Trusel connected on an RBI-single on an 0-1 curveball to left-center field, bringing in Gavin Homer. With the 2-2 score, Clearfield certainly was on the ropes, but managed to get out of the jam when Trusel was caught in a rundown for the second out, then Steven Budash struck out looking.
The bottom half of the frame saw Clearfield suddenly got going in a big way.
Morgen Billotte reached on an error, then Blake Prestash connected on a liner down the third base line for a double. Rumsky then singled to shallow right to bring Billotte home and put Clearfield in the lead. Prestash scored shortly after on a single by Gearhart, then Matt Bailor would bring in Gearhart on an RBI-double to center field. Suddenly Clearfield held a 5-2 advantage, putting one of the toughest teams in the state in an unfamiliar spot.
Dixon then began having a stellar finish to his stint, as his supporting cast would make incredible plays to keep them in the lead. From Billotte’s diving grab in center to a wild fly catch by Prestash in foul territory, the Bison had things going their way.
But the top of the fifth saw the Little Indians pull back as a pair of RBI hits from Homer and Trusel cut the lead to one, 5-4.
After six innings, Lansberry pulled Dixon to be relieved by Rumsky, attempting to get the save. For Dixon, it was a strong effort, but the long-time coach said it also was time for him to get a break.
“He threw almost 90 pitches on Monday night (against Punxsutawney). This is his second start of the week, so I think he did all that he could do,” Lansberry said.
The seventh inning is when everything changed, as Rumsky’s effort started strong as a groundout by Trusel and strikeout by Steven Budash put two outs on the board. The Bison were one out away from giving the Little Indians their first loss on the season…and then things went awry. Walks to Yarity and Ben Ryan put the tying and winning runs in play, and that was when the Little Indians brought in Austin Homer to bat. Their leading hitter had been nursing an injury, keeping him out of the starting lineup, but when he was called upon he watched a pair of pitches go by before connecting on the 1-1 throw. It found the gap between first and second, which brought Yarity home, tying up the game at five runs each.
A strikeout by Tyler Gonas ended the inning, and Clearfield then had one inning left to get the victory.
“When (Homer) came in to pinch-hit, he’s their No. 1 hitter, but he was hurt. He rolled that right at the right spot,” Lansberry said.
The bottom of the seventh inning started with Prestash singling into right field, putting the winning run on base. Rumsky then struck out looking, and Dixon then rolled into a fielder’s choice to put the tying run at second. But, Ryan Gearhart saw a full-count pitch go right by his bat, ending the inning and it was looking as though the eighth inning was about to get going, as Clearfield headed onto the field for warmups.
But the umpires, and coaches met at home plate to discuss the situation. Seconds were passing by, and the skies were not in their favor. The scoreboard was the brightest light on the field, but it was becoming apparent that safety was going to be a problem. That is when the officials waved their hands, and the game came to a conclusion.
“All these kids were throwing hard. Their starter and last pitchers had to be throwing mid-80 MPH,” Lansberry said. “But it was getting so dark, that’s why I felt they (umpires) made the right decision. It’s dangerous when both kids are throwing that hard, but you can’t see the ball.
“Plus, you have cars coming up over the hill with their lights on, that gives a huge glare. It was just unsafe to play.”
Clearfield (1-3-1) will be back in action on Monday for a Mountain League contest at Huntingdon.
SCORE BY INNING
Indiana 011 020 1 – 5 9 3
Clearfield 023 000 0 – 5 6 2
Indiana – 5
Gavin Homer-SS 4221, Lincoln Trusal-3B 4022, Steven Budash-C 4010, Brandon Yanity-EH 2210, Ben Ryan-P 3010, Lucas Connel-1B 3000, Austin Homer-PH 1011, Tyler Gonos-DH 4010, Branden Kanick-CF 2100, Zach Tortorella-LF 1000. TOTALS 25 5 9 4.
Clearfield – 5
Nolan Barr-2B 3000, Kyle Elensky-3B 3000, Morgen Billotte-CF 4100, Blake Prestash-1B 4130, Karson Rumsky-SS 4121, Hunter Dixon-P 2000, Nick Domico-CR 0100, Ryan Gearhart-LF-3101, Matt Bailor-C 2012, Cole Bloom-RF 2001. TOTALS 27 5 6 5.
E: Yanity-2, Truman
ROE: Kanick/Billotte, Gearhart, Rumsky
2B: Yanity, Homer-2, Gonos/Bailor, Prestash
FC: Bloom, Dixon
CS: Trusel, Brocious/Bloom
Indiana: Ryan-1.1 IP, 0 H, 2 R 1 ER, 1 SO, 3 BB; Geesey-2.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 2 SO, 1 BB; Budash-3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 SO, 1 BB.
Clearfield: Dixon-6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 SO, 2 BB; Rumsky-1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 SO, 2 BB.