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Jeannette junior Legion team improves record

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By Dave Moio
Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

The shaveman cometh.

Marcus Clarkson can finally stop scratching his neck and answering the question, “How old are you?”

He was true to his word to grow a beard until Jeannette Junior Legion won their first game of the 2013 season and, as of last Tuesday's 3-2 win over Police Athletic League, he was equally as true to his word that he would shave as soon as he got the chance.

“I'll never grow facial hair again,” said Clarkson. “I didn't realize how much gray was in there. In a matter of a half hour I went from looking 42 to looking 32.”

Jeannette let Clarkson off the beard pledge hook thanks in large part to a strong starting pitching performance from Keith Borland who allowed just two runs on two hits over five and two-thirds.

PAL managed to load the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the seventh, but a force out at home, a strike out and a harmless ground ball to first ended the threat and brought Jeannette its first victory of the season.

Then the floodgates opened — at least a bit.

Jeannette finished a rain-shortened game last Wednesday with PAL and overcame a 7-5 deficit to defeat PAL 11-9. Kevin Borland, Keith's fraternal twin brother, went 4-4 and scored four runs in the win.

The streak continued Friday when Jeannette pounded out 13 hits and scored 13 runs in beating Ligonier 13-2. Chris Steffen returned from injury and went 3-3 with five stolen bases.

“We had to stop running Chris once we got the lead or he might have had 10 steals in the game,” said Clarkson. “That was the game I was waiting for all year where we could break out and really score some runs.”

Jeannette's luck, or more accurately, pitching, ran out last Saturday against Hempfield East. Hempfield scored five runs in the top of the first and cruised to a 13-2 win over Jeannette.

Despite the winning streak coming to an end, Clarkson is proud of the effort and resolve his team showed in the regular season's concluding week of action.

The team's record of 3-13 and a nine-seed in the playoff bracket is not the situation Clarkson hoped for when the season began, but he expects his team to be prepared for its single-elimination game this week against Greensburg.

“We'll be ready to play,” said Clarkson. “If our pitching can come through and we can hit the ball like we did last week, we could win a few.”

One thing is certain for the future of Jeannette Junior Legion baseball — as long as Marcus Clarkson is the coach, season-long beard growing is not an option.

Dave Moio is a freelance writer.

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