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Pioneers' Sheets makes the right choice

Anticipating the pitch, the junior drove in the winning run with a single in the sixth inning.

Standing at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning of a 1-1 game, Clearview's Brandon Sheets was looking for a first-pitch fastball.

He found it.

Sheets' sharp single up the middle scored Matt Bodine with the winning run as Clearview defeated Cumberland, 2-1, yesterday in the semifinals of the South Jersey Group 3 baseball tournament.

Ninth-seeded Clearview (14-8) advanced to Friday's championship game against Timber Creek, a winner yesterday over West Deptford.

The single by Sheets, a junior first baseman, was the decisive hit in a pitchers' duel between Clearview's Shane Taylor and Cumberland's Gage Mick.

Taylor, a sophomore righthander, worked the first six innings. He allowed one run and two hits, struck out eight, and didn't walk a batter.

Mick, a junior righthander, worked all six innings for the Colts (11-9). He surrendered both runs, only one of which was earned, and seven hits, with eight strikeouts. He also didn't issue a walk, although he hit a batter.

"Both pitchers did a great job," Cumberland coach Rich Husted said.

With great command of his curveball, Taylor retired the first 12 batters in order. He allowed a run in the fifth, on Barry Larro's double and Jack Tyler's RBI single, but shut the Colts down again in the top of the sixth.

"The last couple of games, my curveball has really been coming around," Taylor said.

With Taylor throwing 83 pitches on a warm, muggy day, Clearview coach Rocco Cornacchia pulled his star sophomore off the mound after six innings and turned to senior Michael Hand to close the game.

Cumberland got a runner to third base with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Hand shut the door with a strikeout.

"I wasn't going to jeopardize a kid's potential for one game," Cornacchia said of removing Taylor.

In the bottom of the sixth, Bodine, a senior, led off with a single and took second on Hand's one-out sacrifice bunt. One pitch later, Bodine was rounding third and heading home on Sheets' hit.

"It was unbelievable," Bodine said. "Turning for home with the crowd going crazy in a playoff game, it was an amazing feeling."

Cumberland 000 010 0 - 1 3 1

Clearview 100 001 x - 2 7 1

WP: Shane Taylor LP: Gage Mick

2B: CU-Barry Larro.