Clarence rallied for two runs in the top of the sixth and held on to advance to the Centre County Baseball League finals with a 4-3 triumph against Pleasant Gap at Gorvernor’s Park on Sunday.
The Mounties won the best-of-five semifinal series 3-1 and will face top-seeded Philipsburg, which defeated Blanchard 3-0, in the championship series, which begins Tuesday at Philipsburg High School.
Neither team led by more than a run in the contest as Clarence right-hander Cody Klinger dueled with Pleasant Gap lefty Dan Roan.
The Peppers grabbed the early lead in the bottom of the second. Tyler James swiped third base and scored as the throw skipped into left field.
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The Mounties squared the game in the top of the third on Brian Kochik’s sacrifice fly, but the Peppers took the lead back in the bottom of the inning as Greg Reeder belted a home run.
Clarence used its own power to tie the contest in the fourth as Justin Taylor blasted a homer. Pleasant Gap’s Reeder, who was playing right field, prevented further damage in the inning by throwing out a runner at the plate.
The Peppers crept ahead again in the fifth. Steven Alterio raced home from second to score on Cory Cunningham’s two-out single.
Once again, Clarence rallied in its next at-bat. With one out and Taylor at second, a grounder back to Roan caught Taylor in a rundown. Taylor managed to get safely to third and scored on Matt Fisher’s sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3-3. Derek Jabco’s RBI single plated the game-winner.
Pleasant Gap threatened in the seventh, putting runners at first and second with one out. Cunningham grounded into a force play at second, but was caught trying to take an extra base to end the game.
Taylor, the former Bald Eagle Area and current California, Pa., standout, had four of the Mounties’ nine hits. Reeder and Alterio had two-his for the Peppers, who finished with eight.
Clarence last won the league title in 2004. Philipsburg knocked off seven-time defending champion Lemont to win the 2012 crown.