With a leg up in their best-of-five playoff series on the line, the Howard Hawks got the big inning when they needed it.
A third-inning surge proved to be the difference as the Hawks came out on top in a 6-1 victory Thursday evening in the Centre County Baseball League semifinals.
Howard takes a 2-1 lead in the series and can clinch a spot in the championship round with a win Sunday in Howard. A Clarence win will force a winner-take-all Game 5 on Tuesday.
Philipsburg is up 2-1 on Pleasant Gap in the other semifinal series.
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During a scoreless second inning, defense shined. Whether it was Clarence pitcher Justin Taylor or Howard second basemen Travis Price, impressive outs were made.
Howard’s climb to victory started in the third when Evan Gettig, Brandon Gettig and Scott Zuback loaded the bases. The Gettig brothers both hit singles, while Zuback was hit by a pitch. Price then knocked the ball past the Clarence defense for a single, bringing home the Gettig brothers. A Tyler Womer RBI single added to the lead.
It was all Womer would need as he struck out four and gave up just five hits in the complete-game win.
The Mounties struck for their lone run in the fourth. After Womer walked Clarence’s first two batters, Matt Fisher singled in Ryan MacNamara. The Mounties later loaded the bases with one out, but a Hawk double play ended the threat.
Price singled in Brandon Gettig for a run in the fifth. In the sixth, after Rusty Gates reached base, Evan Gettig doubled and Brandon Getting knocked in the run with a single.
Dan Cole brought in two more runs in the seventh to complete the scoring.
After the game, Price was extremely happy with his team’s efforts.
“This was the first game that we looked like a complete ball team,” he said. “We hit the ball and our fielding was great.
”When our hitting is on, I don’t think we can be beat. We’re one of the best hitting teams in this league when we’re on, so we’re in a good position right now.”
Howard finished the game with 10 hits.