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Clinton nips Franklin

BUDE – One questionable third-inning call and elusive pitchingfrom the Top-15 ranked Clinton Arrows was all it took to ground thehost Franklin County Bulldogs chances of an upset Thursday night.The Bulldogs held the Arrows to three hits and two earned runs inthe 5-3 loss.

“We gave them all they wanted and then some,” said a vocal WillBuckels. “We should have won this game. They know it, we know it,and everyone that was here tonight knows it.”

Buckels, the 5-11, 180-pound senior leader on the Bulldog team,was the centerpiece of a third inning call that was controversialand changed the game’s entire outlook in a matter of seconds.

Leading 1-0, the Dawgs found themselves in the midst of dangeras Clinton loaded the bases with one out remaining in the thirdframe. The Arrows (15-5) used what seemed to be a clear-as-daydouble play to their advantage and scored three runs off a JohnnieTurner fielder’s choice and Bulldog fielding error. Buckels, fromhis shortstop position, caught a ground, tagged a running Clintonrunner and then proceeded with the double-play throw to first forthe presumed second out.

Instead, Turner’s fielder’s choice turned into a three-runmarathon for the Arrows. All three dazed Clinton runners ran homethinking the inning was over. The Arrows took a 3-1 lead.

“I called it when I tagged him,” added Buckels. “I was trying todo everything I could to make the play for us to get out of theinning but the umpire had a different story.”

The officials called Buckels visible touch a slip of hand andunnoticed as the three Arrows ran home. After a Dann Griffinstrikeout of the next Clinton batter, the inning was finallyover.

“That one play cost us,” said Bulldog head coach Ed Zumbro Jr.who was coaching against his youngest son Cody for the last time inuniform. Cody serves as an assistant on the Arrows squad.

“The play was there, but the umpire said it wasn’t,” addedZumbro. “That hurt us, bad!”

Zumbro’s Dawgs (9-5) fought back to cut the Arrows lead to one(4-3) in the fifth off a line-drive single from Buckels. Franklinhad loaded the bases that inning, until Arrow pitcher Matt Jordan,a southpaw, quieted the rally. Jordan struck out nine Bulldogbatters in five innings of work.

“They threw their number two guy against us and he did a prettygood job,” continued Zumbro. “I tell you, our guy didn’t do a badjob.”

The Dawgs man, Dann Griffin (4-1), absorbed his first loss ofthe season with three strikeouts and three walks. He allowed twoearned runs on three hits.

Franklin, who tried a last ditch effort at a comeback in theseventh loss their chance as Clinton closer Reed Puritt silencedthem with a pair of pop-ups and a strikeout.

The Bulldogs were led by Buckels at the plate with two singles.Jasper O’Quinn, James King, Chase Evans and Baron Jones also hitsafely.

Clinton’s three hits came from Jordan, Pruitt and senior KoreyCunningham.

Tonigh,t the Bulldogs travel to Summit to play the North PikeJaguars in a key Region 7-3A contest. The Dawgs must beat the Jagsby 10 or more to win the region crown. North Pike beat Franklin14-5 at Bude on March 16th.

“We’re bringing it tonight against North Pike,” added Buckels.”We’re mad now, and they come at a ripe time for us to take ourfrustrations out on.”

Buckels’ strong and energetic comments, plus diamond talentsearned him the start on the mound against the Jaguars tonight. Gametime has been set for 5 p.m. with the junior varsity contest and 7with the varsity showdown.