Centre County Baseball: Clarence beats Spike Island Pirates 6-3

Clarence first base coach Jim Taylor called it.

“We can beat ‘em if we have a full team,” he joked before Thursday night’s Centre County Baseball League matchup against the league’s frontrunners, Phillipsburg’s Spike Island Pirates.

Clarence (9-4) used a four-run fifth inning to notch the 6-3 win over the Pirates (11-3), moving within 1 1/2 games of the league leaders.

The Mounties had a full 15 players in their dugout, while Spike Island only brought nine.

“We don’t want to use that as an excuse,” Pirates manager and left-fielder Drew Bryan said of his shorthanded squad.

Mounties manager Rob Gavlock said the big fifth inning was a nice change from their last few low-scoring games, which led to a three-game slide.

“Up until that point, our two-out hitting was really bad,” he said. “We just started getting hits and they started dropping. We were doing the right things.”

The “right things” included a bunt and a sacrifice fly in that same inning to advance runners. After that, Pirates pitcher Josh Potter was shelled, ceding an RBI single and a two-run single back-to-back before getting pulled. Reliever (and second baseman) Matt Curtis took the mound with three runners on and managed to leave the inning only giving up one more run. He gave up a sixth run in the sixth, a two-out sac fly.

“Josh is a great pitcher,” said Bryan. “I think he just got tired. He’s always really solid for us, you know. He played in the minors so he knows what it takes, but I think he just got hit around a little bit. Every pitcher has those days.”

While Potter struggled, his counterpart, Cody Klinger, cruised.

Klinger threw his fifth win of the season. He has yet to lose a game for the Mounties.

After giving up a run in the first inning, Klinger settled, striking out the next two batters. He finished with six strikeouts, though he hit three batters and walked three.

“I was missing high and in all game,” he said. “Just a couple got away from me. ... I’ll work through it.”

The Pirates tried to rally with two runs in the fifth — the first was an RBI single and the second a sac fly during which an obstruction of the plate was called and the run counted — but Klinger and his defense retired the next six to finish the game.

Clarence has a doubleheader Sunday, first visiting Howard at 2 p.m., then going to Bellefonte to meet Pleasant Gap at 6 p.m. Phillipsburg hosts Lemont at 3 p.m. Sunday.