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July 14, 2014

Cochranton wins CVAL title

COCHRANTON — Prior to the start of the American Legion season, Cochranton coach Randy Staudt went knocking on doors in four different townships trying to recruit players for his squad.

He didn’t have much luck. However, a slender ballplayer from Guys Mills signed on the dotted line and is the reason why Staudt hoisted the Crawford-Venango American Legion championship trophy on Monday night.

His name: Nate Klingler.

Pitching six strong innings and going 3-for-3 with two RBI from the No. 9 hole, Klingler led the Bluebirds to a 5-4 victory over short-handed French Creek Valley on the Cochranton High School diamond.

Cochranton blitzed through the CVAL tourney with a 3-0 record — defeating Oil City (9-1) and FCV twice, including 6-5 verdict on Saturday.

“From a small community, this is a great accomplishment,” said an elated Staudt. “I went to four different townships during the offseason, trying to get players to play. Only a few Maplewood players agreed to play.”

Can you say, Klingler.

Mixing his pitches extremely well, Klingler carried a one-hitter into the sixth inning before running out of steam as French Creek Valley struck for two runs to cut Cochranton’s lead to 5-4.

Klingler allowed four runs (three earned), while striking out six and walking two.

“Nate has been solid for us all year on the mound,” said Staudt. “I expected a big game from him and I got it.”

Klingler also stepped up in the batter’s box.

Highlighted by Klingler’s two-run single, Cochranton struck for three runs in the second inning to take an early 4-0 lead. Prior to Klingler’s one-bagger, A.J. Nageotte lined a single and Ryan Northcott drew a bases-loaded walk.

“Our hitting was down somewhat during the regular season, but we picked it up in the tournament and got some clutch hits ... Nate delivered for us (tonight),” said Staudt.

French Creek Valley was playing without regular starters Scott Sada, Tyler Walters, Kyle Wise and Mitchell Wood, who were playing Class B baseball in Ohio. When asked about their absences, FCV coach Brandon Crum said, “I knew a couple days ago and I didn’t have a problem with it.”

Down 4-0 and without those big bats, FCV still found a way to chip away at the deficit.

The Creekers started to comeback in the third inning. Drilling a shot into the left-center field gap, Drew Durasa’s two-run double cut Cochranton’s lead to 4-2.

After Cochranton scored its fifth run in the fifth on Jesse Staudt’s lead-off double and Caleb Peterson’s sacrifice fly, FCV rallied for two more runs in the sixth. Designated-hitterr Taylor Williams led off with a single and scored on Trey Reagle’s groundout and Damien Granda lined a RBI single later in the inning.

In the seventh, Staudt — realizing Klingler reached the 100-pitch count and was tiring — brought in his ace hurler, Ryan Northcott.

A wise choice as the flame-throwing Northcott mowed down the FCV batters 1-2-3.

Staudt’s next decision? Who to give the CVAL championship trophy to for the team picture.

“All year, our pitching and defense have been our backbone to our success and they were again in the tournament,” said Staudt.

Crum took the loss in stride.

“If you told me on June 4 that we were going to be playing in the Region 8 tournament, I would have laughed because we were 1-6 at that time,” he said. “We stuck together and our focus right now is to keep moving forward. A lot of the credit goes to our leaders, Matty (Thompson) and Drew (Durasa).”

Both Cochranton and French Creek Valley qualified for the Region 8 tournament, which will start Saturday at Albion.

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