The McLane Junior League baseball team, down to their final strike, struck instead for two runs in the final inning and defeated the Franklin All-Stars 3-2 on Friday night in the losers’ bracket final of the double-elimination Section 1 Junior League Tournament at the Orris Complex at DuBois City Park in Clearfield County.
McLane advanced to a rematch with host DuBois on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 PM. The tournament champion will advance to the state Junior League championships which begin Wednesday morning at Cranberry.
Franklin, the District 25 champions, broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning and retired the first pair of McLane batters in the top of the seventh frame on fine defensive plays by left fielder Brady Wilson and second baseman Nate Emerson. But, McLane’s Jon Solberg walked on a three-two pitch, and teammate Alex Jay singled. Cleanup hitter Ethan Laird then chopped a fifteen-foot grounder that stayed inside the third-base foul line, and a throwing error allowed both the tying and go-ahead runs to score.
Franklin did manage a baserunner in the bottom of the seventh, but he was caught trying to steal second base when a low throw to the second baseman was trapped in the dirt, and the fielder tagged the runner on the foot as the runner attempted to hop over the defender’s glove.
McLane broke a scoreless tie in the second inning when Laird and Jon Carrier singled, and Laird scored on a ground ball off the bat of Kyle Berger. Franklin tied the game again in the fourth when starting pitcher Tyler Emrick reached on a force play, stole second and third, and scored on an error. The Franklin squad took the lead in the sixth when Emrick singled, stole second and third once again, and came home on a ground ball by Trey Weaver.
Emerson and Emrick both recorded two of Franklin’s six hits, while Laird went 3-for-4 for McLane and Jay had two of the District 1 champion’s eight base hits.
Laird earned the win, and Alex Andrzejewski — the starting McLane catcher — recorded the save. Franklin closer Andy Irwin was handed the loss. Emrick worked six innings for Franklin, allowing one run on six hits, with four strikeouts and one walk.
Franklin went 1-2 in the DuBois tournament, and finished 4-2 overall in All-Star play.