Extra, extra! Cleary pitches a classic

Kenn Oliver
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Bulldogs win 2-1 to force Game 7

The night after the NL Plumbing Hitmen’s Robbie Greene tossed a 16-strikeout shutout win over the Kelly’s Pub Molson Bulldogs in the Molson St. John’s senior softball final, Sean Cleary came back with his own gem to lead the Bulldogs to a 2-1 extra-innings victory in Game 6 Thursday night at Lions Park.

Kelly’s Pub Bulldogs’ pitcher Sean Cleary prepares to field a ball hit by the NL Plumbing Hitmen’s Justin Gill (right) in Game 6 of their Molson St. John’s senior softball final at Lions Park on Thursday night. Bulldogs’ catcher John Farrell (17) looks on. Cleary set or tied a number of records, striking out an incredible 26 batters in a game that required two extra innings beyond the normal seven as the Bulldogs won 2-1. That result ties the best-of-seven series at 3-3, with the deciding contest tonight at Lions Park.

Cleary (3H, 6W) went the distance, striking out 26 Hitmen batters for the win. In the process, Cleary set a league record and tied a provincial record for strikeouts in a seven-inning contest with 20 and he also established a new senior league record for overall strikeouts in the playoffs, surpassing Ward Gosse’ 1995 mark of 114 with his 115th strikeout in the bottom of the third inning.

“It’s never about the amount of strikeouts,” Cleary told the Telegram after the record setting performance. “It’s about winning the ball game and getting your teammates in it with you.”

With the Bulldogs’ win, the league final will need a seventh and deciding game for the 18th time in league history. Game 7 goes tonight, 7 o’clock, back at Lions Park.

Greene (2R, 2H, 6W), meanwhile, had another solid game complete game effort for the Hitmen, striking out 18.

The winning run came in the top of the ninth inning. John Farrell, placed on second base to start the inning as per the international tie-breaker rule, advanced to third on a Jon Kelly flyout and scored on an infield hit by Donny Cleary that barely evaded the Hitmen’s gold glove winning shortstop Justin Gill.

The Bulldogs’ other run came in the top of the sixth inning when Jon Kelly’s two-out, bases loaded Infield single scored Andrew Wade from third.

The Hitmen plated their only run, also with two-out and the bases loaded, Brad Ezekiel scored on a passed ball.

Both Greene and Cleary will take the mound again, making it five consecutive nights the aces have tossed for their respective teams.

“We’ve got to come out and be patient at the plate like we showed tonight. We’ve got to come back with a do or die mentality and take it to them.”

The Hitmen’s Sean Cadigan, who was struck out in the third and seventh inning, helping Cleary establish his records, says, despite the record number of strikeouts, Game 7 will come down to hitting.

“For both teams, it’s going to be a matter of who puts the ball in play more, that’s what it’s going to come down to.”

Cadigan insists the Game 6 loss won’t affect Greene.

“It’s not going to throw him off at all. He comes hyped for every game and I’m sure he’s going to be ready to pitch.”

 

koliver@thetelegram.com

Twitter@telykenn

 

 

Organizations: Molson

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