CLARION - It took a few innings for Clarion's All-Stars to heat up on offense Tuesday night at Weaver Field, but once they did, there was no cooling them off.
The end result was a 12-1, mercy-rule victory over Oil City and a District 25 12U championship.
Clarion's stars only led 2-1 through three innings, but put up three runs in the fourth before erupting for seven more in the fifth to seal up the victory and the title.
"I told the guys that I was very proud of them," Clarion head coach Lee Weber said. "Other teams came back in because they thought they had a chance to beat Clarion this year, and everybody was expecting to beat us this year because we lost three or four guys. But, it gave guys that wouldn't have been all-stars opportunities, and those guys played better than they did in the regular season because they were with a stronger group. They were focused and they listened and they gave great effort."
Clarion, which was the away team after losing the coin toss, struck first in the contest.
After and uneventful first frame, Aiden Coulson opened the second inning with a line single to left off OC starter Elijah Brosius before Nathan Frederick dropped down a bunt single. Braylon Beckwith then blooped a single behind first base to load the bases for the No. 9 hitter, Brady Pierce.
Pierce came through with a two-RBI single that gave Clarion a 2-0 lead midway through the inning.
Oil City responded in the bottom half of the frame, though.
Ryland Geib coaxed a one-out walk before advancing to third on a two-out single off the stick of Gavin Keith against Clarion starting pitcher Lucas Mitrosky. Mitrosky then uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Geib to scramble home, cutting Oil City's deficit in half at 2-1.
It turned out to be their one-and-only run of the game, however.
They threatened again in the third, though, putting runners on first and second on a single from Brosius and a walk from Casey Rybak.
That spelled the end of the outing for Mitrosky, who gave way to Jimmy Kerr, who induced a grounder to second. The second baseman tried a swipe tag on the runner but came up empty, loading the bases.
Kerr struck the next batter out before Braylon Barber send a fly ball to medium right field, which allowed Brosius to tag up and score from third - or so it seemed.
Clarion appealed the play and the runner was called out for tagging early, bringing an end to the inning.
Clarion capitalized on the momentum in the top of the fourth, sending all nine batters to the plate and scoring three times.
An error and a walk to lead off the inning set up an RBI single from Wyatt Watterson before Jayden Siwiecki loaded the bases again with a bunt single.
A strikeout and a fielder's choice back to the mound nearly allowed Brosius to escape from the jam, but a free pass and a hit-by-pitch brought in two more runs, giving Clarion a 5-1 advantage.
That was just a precursor to the fifth inning, though, as Clarion brought 11 to plate with seven coming across to score - all with two outs.
Brosius got the leadoff man to line out hard to left before a comebacker served as the second out, but the third batter to the plate, Watterson, roped a one-hop double off the centerfield wall, bringing an end to Brosius' outing due to hitting the pitch limit.
Barber came in to pitch and fired two wild pitches to the next batter, allowing Watterson to race to third and score during the plate appearance, which ended in a walk.
A bloop single from Pierce and another walk loaded the bases once again.
That's when the wheels really came off for OC.
Another wild pitch allowed another run to score and the throw attempt to cut down the runner at the plate was also wild, allowing a second run to scurry home.
A fielding error on a soft liner to short resulted in a fourth run to score in the inning before a liner up the middle and an infield single reloaded the bases once again.
Yet another wild pitch resulted in a run before Kerr capped off the rally with a two-RBI single to left, leaving Clarion with a 12-1 edge, which would be the eventual final after OC went quietly in the bottom half of the inning.
Coulson, Watterson and Pierce each notched two hits apiece for Clarion in the win with Pierce and Kerr driving home two each. Hayden Weber, Matt Alston and Watterson added an RBI each.
Kerr also earned the win on the mound, coming on in relief to toss three scoreless frames.
Brosius, Rybak and Keith notched a single apiece to account for OC's hits in the loss.