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Coach remains optimistic about Jeannette Junior Legion's efforts

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Tre Cunningham makes a play at second base.
PHOTOS: John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit
Jeannette Junior Legion player Blaze Tran is safe at first base.

And the beard grows on.

Marcus Clarkson's pledge to grow his beard until his Jeannette Junior Legion team wins its first game this season persists as does Jeannette's season-long swoon.

Two losses — one to Hempfield East, 8-3 last Tuesday and one to Hempfield West, 12-1 last Thursday — dropped Jeannette to 0-10 on the season, but Clarkson remains optimistic.

“I think we are going to break through and get a win very soon,” said Jeannette's head coach. “I know we have not won, but I am very proud of the guys. They never quit, they are learning and the at-bats are getting better.”

Better at-bats will be key in helping Jeannette break the losing streak. So will better defense and better pitching. Jeannette starters were wild in the two losses last week.

Keith Borland started against Hempfield East and threw well for two innings, but struggled through the third and never regained his composure.

Jonathan Stokum, a player Clarkson is counting on to emerge not only for this Junior Legion season, but also for next season when Stokum will be a junior for Jeannette's high school team, was wild in his three innings of work against Hempfield West.

Stokum walked eight and Jeannette never recovered from the runs Hempfield West was able to plate thanks to the free passes.

A good sign for Clarkson's team did show up in the Hempfield West loss, though, and it is one that has been sitting on Jeannette's bench the entire season.

That sign was 14-year-old Blaze Tran took over for Stokum and, in his first appearance of the season, surprised his coach and pitched three innings without allowing an earned run.

“Blaze Tran got his opportunity and earned a chance to play more. He was great,” said Clarkson. “He pitched to contact, was not afraid out there and threw a lot of strikes. It was great to see a young guy do what he did.”

Clarkson and his lengthening facial hair will lead Jeannette in a double header Saturday against Shaler.

Dave Moio is a freelance writer.

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