Jeannette shows toughness in nonsection win over Southmoreland
By: Bill Beckner Jr.
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 | 9:06 PM
Baseball coaches will tell you it never hurts to have a little dog in their team.
In Tuesday’s case, an actual dog — not the euphemism for toughness — made an appearance in the fourth inning, delaying play between Jeannette and visiting Southmoreland for a few minutes.
The toughness part showed up a little later for the Jayhawks when they held off the Scotties’ comeback and fetched another home victory — their 13th in row at Buster Clarkson Field — by an 8-4 final in a nonsection game.
The Jayhawks (5-1), who have won four in a row, pushed a couple of late runs across after the Scotties (2-4), who have dropped four in a row, cut their lead to 6-4.
A decent crowd in the bleachers on the Jayhawks’ first-base side looked on and enjoyed more than the sunshine in West Jeannette.
“The field means a lot to me, but the community means a lot,” said Jeannette coach Marcus Clarkson, the great-nephew of the late Buster Clarkson. “The one thing about us and having this field down in this area, we do get a lot of people come to our games. These kids love to play in front of Jeannette fans. Most of these kids are football players, and they love that atmosphere. It’s been good to have that atmosphere down here.”
Ricky Pitzer had two hits and drove in a run, Matt Pompei went 2 for 3 with a deep double to left and an RBI, and Drake Petrillo had two RBIs for Jeannette. Pompei, who Clarkson said is gaining momentum in the lineup, completed a double play with a putout and throw to second in the third inning.
“We just stick together,” Pitzer said. “This is Jeannette. It’s a tight-knit community. This isn’t a team. This is a brotherhood. Everybody has everybody’s back, and we never back down from a challenge.”
The Jayhawks have not lost at Clarkson Field since the final home game of the 2017 season, 3-1, against rival Greensburg Central Catholic.
“We have been playing here since rec. I have been playing here for 10 years,” Pitzer said. “We’re used to the setting.”
Southmoreland, showing improvement under first-year coach Al Govern, didn’t help its cause with six errors.
Jeannette pitchers Toby Cline and Derrick Miller combined on a two-hitter, Cline starting and earning the win in just 21⁄3 innings of work. Miller gave up three runs but also struck out five in 42⁄3 innings.
For Southmoreland, Mason Basinger went six innings and gave up eight hits and six earned runs. Of his 91 pitches, 59 were strikes.
The errors had Govern pacing in the dugout afterward. The Scotties are halfway to last year’s win total, but the coach wants to tighten up the defense.
He said the team has 20 errors in its last three games.
“We have to get outs,” he said. “This is happening way too much. I don’t want us falling into the old mentality. You don’t pick yourself up after a mistake. We have to block it out and move on.”
Jeannette went ahead 6-1 in the fourth. An error during a rundown allowed Pompei to score, Zack Berginc stole home and Seth Howard grounded out to bring home the sixth run.
The Scotties scored three times in the fifth. After a pair of walks, Travis Sipple ripped a single to make it 6-2. An error aided the third run and Anthony Govern grounded out to push home the fourth.
Pompei’s double to left, probably the hardest-hit ball of the day, scored pinch-runner Devin Houser, and it was 7-4 in the fifth.
After a 1-2-3 sixth for Southmoreland, Jeannette added some insurance. Howard singled, stole second and scored on a single by Petrillo to make it 8-4.
Clarkson mostly was pleased with his pitching duo. Top two hurlers Howard and Michael McCabe rested on this day.
“I like our nonsection schedule,” Clarkson said. “Playing up a class, playing a Southmoreland team that is up in class, it’s good to see how some of these younger guys can throw. I like playing these nonsection games to see what we got. We have a big section game (Wednesday at Brentwood).”
Southmoreland took a 1-0 lead in the first on a run-scoring single by Austin McBeth. Jeannette answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning, one via a wild pitch, another on a groundout by Petrillo and a third on a single by Pitzer.
As for the dog, it dashed across the infield in the fourth inning, ran into the outfield and eventually ducked behind the fence. It showed up again briefly before it was scooped up by its owner.
Clarkson said he has seen a pooch run on his team’s field before.
“I don’t think it was that particular dog,” Clarkson said with a laugh. “When you play in Jeannette, be prepared for something. We had a little disruption in the middle of the game, but the dog was unharmed and everyone lived, so that’s good.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .