HS BASEBALL: INDIANA 12, MOUNT PLEASANT 0
Early in Wednesday’s game, Indiana baseball coach Rob Stossel had some of his players showing bunt, and he even had his designated hitter attempt to bunt for a hit — little things to disrupt the opposing pitcher’s timing in hopes of jump-starting the Indians’ bats.
With two on in the bottom of the second, Danny Clark squared around just for show on the first pitch he saw. Two pitches later, he showed Stossel what he was really looking for, leading an offensive outburst for Indiana by slamming a three-run home run over the left-center field fence, and the Indians went on to crush Mount Pleasant, 12-0, in a five-inning, mercy-rule-shortened WPIAL Section 2-AAA game Wednesday afternoon at Keystone Rehab Field.
“I’ve been struggling all year. It’s been, get a hit then go 0-for-9,” said Clark, who finished 3-for-4. “This was my breakout game. I was actually seeing it very well. I’d been struggling lately seeing the ball.”
“We’ve had some games where we just haven’t played a complete game,” Stossel said. “One game the pitching would carry us, one game the defense.
“It seemed like the offense was the one thing that we hadn’t put into play as of yet, and today was a good sign of what I think will come as the season progresses. I think overall our pitching has been good. Our defense has made plays when we needed to. If we can get the same confidence at the plate and start stringing them together, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Indiana is 6-2, 3-1 in the section, and figures to stay competitive in Section 2-AAA, especially if the bats stay hot to complement Indiana’s already solid pitching.
Clark continued the Indians’ strong mound showing with a dominant two-hit shutout win, striking out 10 and walking just one. Through three innings, with Indiana up 10-0 and the possibility of a shortened game strong, Clark actually had a perfect game going and was a triple short of the cycle.
The junior, a left-handed thrower and right-handed batter, allowed his first baserunner with one out in the fourth on a walk to Tyler Mellors, then conceded a hit to the next batter, Mitch Matlas, before getting out of the mini-jam. Clark reached on an error in his final at-bat.
He settled for an excellent two-way showing.
As the Indians’ No. 2 pitcher behind ace Sean Thompson, Clark could be the wild card Indiana needs to keep things rolling through the season.
“We’re looking for someone to step up,” Stossel said, “and Danny, the two starts he’s had, he had a quality start at Hollidaysburg and an outstanding effort here today.”
“On the mound I was feeling pretty good,” Clark said. “Before the game I was a little tight, but as the game went on, I just got stronger and stronger, and I had a great defense behind me. I knew if I just let them hit it, they would field it for me.”
But Clark didn’t let the Vikings (3-4, 1-2) hit much, fanning seven of the first eight and eight of the first 10 batters he faced.
“I knew they were late on it, so I was using my fastball and saved some pitches,” Clark said, “and saved my arm instead of throwing curveballs.”
Ryan Creps added a 3-for-3 performance, and Thompson was 2-for-4 with a double and a triple. Clark scored three times, and Thompson, Creps and Zach Schultz scored twice each.
“We were finally able to string some hits together, and it was a total team effort,” Stossel said.
“This is my first year, Coach (Ryan) Davies’ first year as assistant varsity (coach), so we’re getting to know the kids, we’re getting to know each other and we’re starting to think, hopefully, this is a sign that we’re starting to blend together. Hopefully we can keep climbing that mountain.”