Clear Fork’s clutch pitching, timely hitting beat Loudonville

BELLVILLE — An early season rash of injuries has the Clear Fork baseball team looking for ways to scratch out wins. They were able to do that against Loudonville on Saturday.

Dylan Wade stepped up big for Clear Fork vs. the Redbirds. The slight left-handed pitcher helped the Colts down Loudonville 9-2 in a non-league game.

Wade was able to keep Loudonville hitters off-balance all afternoon with with his well located off-speed pitches and that performance was a relief for head coach Rusty Staab.

“This is what the doctor ordered,” Staab said. “We’ve been struggling. We have like a MASH unit. We needed a good outing from Dylan Wade. He threw strikes and they did a great job.”

Wade breezed through the first two innings, retiring the Redbirds in order.

The Colts’ bats supported him in his outing, as Clear Fork scored four runs in the first inning.

The big blow was a two-run home run from Paul Francisco.

After allowing base runners in the fourth and fifth innings, Wade was able to work out of jams and maintain the 4-0 lead heading into the top of the fifth inning.

The Colts had opportunities to put the game away early, but wasted scoring chances due to base-running errors.

A botched squeeze play in the second inning, a runner tagged out at third base, along with a pick off at first base in the fourth inning helped keep Loudonville in the game.

Coach Staab, although upset by the base-running gaffes, was reflective.

“We have a lot of kids that are role players,” he said. “They’re starting because of the injuries and they just have to really pick up the pace of the game. Hopefully, everything is a learning experience and they’ll figure it out, because we’re going to need them.”

Staab added: “Some the guys injured might not be back for a couple weeks and the role players need to make mistakes and learn from it.”

Clear Fork hitters were working from behind in the count throughout the game.

“That’s one of the biggest problems,” Staab said. “We’re thinking too much. They’re watching the first pitch and a lot of those pitches are strikes.

“You try to tell them, but, my son, Tommy, watches too many pitches go by, but he’s fortunate enough to put the ball in play.”

The Redbirds made their move in the top of the fifth inning.

Against a tiring Wade, Loudonville got runners on base, put them in scoring position with a bunt and brought them home with timely hitting. With the lead cut to 4-2, Wade was able to end the inning with no more damage.

Clear Fork wasted little time in making sure the game didn’t get away.

The Colts sent 10 hitters to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning on their way to a five-run outburst and a 9-2 lead.

Mitch Dulin, Hunter Boyer and Gage Belcher each had an RBI; AJ Blubaugh scored a pair of runs on a double, his third hit of the game.

Hard-throwing Gavin Bailey relieved Wade and shut down the Redbirds in the sixth and seventh innings giving to give the Colts the win.

By Mike Tanchevski

Bellville Star

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