Philipsburg grabbed an early lead and hung on to beat Clearfield 5-3 on Friday in the loser bracket final of the District 5 11 and 12-year-old Tournament.
Philipsburg’s Anthony Merryman opened the game with a double. Once on base, Nathan Gustkey was quick behind him with a single of his own. Both players continued to scored off errors by catcher Nick Domico.
Head coach Greg Whitehead wasn’t surprised by his team’s early 2-0 lead.
“Anthony Merryman and Nathan Gustkey are consistently getting on base,” he said.
Merryman, on the other hand, admitted to the jitters.
“It’s always nerve-wracking (to bat first), you always think about striking out,” he explained.
Despite solid hitting in the first inning, Philipsbug couldn’t even get on base in the second. Three strikeouts and a walk by Ryan Whitehead kept Clearfield scoreless, however. Whitehead finished with a total of five strikeouts and one walk in his 2 1/3 innings.
Clearfield pitcher Zach Hess hit a triple down the first base line in the third, but was left stranded.
Philipsburg added three more runs before Noah Hoffner hit a double to drive home Hunter Steiner for Clearfield’s first run.
Jake Lezzer hit a two-run home run in the sixth to bring Clearfield within two, but Philipsburg’s defense shut down the comeback and sealed their win.
Whitehead was proud of his team’s efforts.
“We came out, we played well, we ran the bases, and it was a total team win,” Whitehead said. “We made great defensive plays, all three of our pitchers pitched really well, and we’re really looking forward to playing Big Valley on Sunday.”
Philipsburg will play in the District final against host Big Valley on Sunday at 6 p.m.