Meyersdale catcher Tanner Krause tossed his helmet and glove in the air immediately after the final pitch of the PIAA Class A championship game Thursday.
Krause ran toward pitcher Riley Christner, who raised both arms in triumph, to celebrate the Red Raiders’ 2-0 win over Clarion at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Christner overpowered Clarion, allowing two hits and recording 12 strikeouts in a complete-game effort to lead Meyersdale to victory. It’s the first state title for any Somerset County school in any sport.
The Red Raiders received gold medals along the first base line one year after taking home silver medals after falling to Vincentian in the Class A title game. That loss served as motivation for Meyersdale this year when they started winter workouts.
“We were told we were going to be here in January, and the expectations were high,” Meyersdale coach Wayne Miller said. “That makes it difficult when people expect that of you, but the kids worked hard every day and had the talent to do it.”
Meyersdale jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on a bases-loaded walk by Max Caton and adding to the lead on a wild pitch.
With two-run cushion, Christner felt confident on the mound and breezed through inning after inning.
The right-hander, a Pitt commit, recorded five straight strikeouts spanning the second, third and fourth innings. He blew an 89 mph fastball by Spencer Miller for his fifth straight strikeout during the dominant run, causing Miller to slam his bat into the ground on his way back to the dugout in frustration.
“If I was trying to hit against myself, it would probably be pretty tough,” Christner said. “I can spot up really well. I can use the outside, the inside of the plate.”
Christner finally ran into trouble in the fourth inning after giving up a pair of singles, but he escaped the jam by getting a flyout to strand runners at second and third. The right-hander struck out the side in the sixth and clinched the victory with his 12th strikeout.
“You can tell from the first pitch,” Caton said, “he was going to be dominant today.”