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Clifton Park advances to World Series semifinals

Clifton Park wins its division, awaits semifinal opponent

Clifton Park second baseman Zach Sargent hits the ball during Monday’s game against Meridian (Idaho) at the Babe Ruth World Series at Clifton Common.

Clifton Park second baseman Zach Sargent hits the ball during Monday’s game against Meridian (Idaho) at the Babe Ruth World Series at Clifton Common. Photo by Rob Jonas.

The Clifton Park Bulldogs weren’t satisfied with being the hosts of this year’s Babe Ruth World Series. They wanted to win the tournament.

The Bulldogs took a big step toward that goal Tuesday by beating Cranston (R.I.) 11-5 in the final game of pool play.

The victory gave Clifton Park (3-1) first place in its five-team bracket and a bye through the quarterfinals into Thursday’s semifinal.

“As I told the kids, we’ve worked nine months for this,” said Clifton Park manager Matt Frey.

The Bulldogs needed the win in order to stay alive after Meridian (Idaho) defeated Cranston (2-2) 6-5 earlier in the day. The loser of the Clifton Park-Cranston game would be eliminated from the tournament based on total runs allowed, since both Meridian (2-2) and Eagle Pass (Texas) allowed fewer runs than Clifton Park and Cranston.

Cranston came out firing on all cylinders as it took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Clifton Park starting pitcher Greg Waldek settled down after that, though, holding Cranston scoreless through the next three innings.

Clifton Park took the lead in the top of the third inning when Matt Alverson belted a bases-loaded double that drove in three runs. The Bulldogs then tacked on two runs in the fourth inning to build a 5-2 advantage.

The score was 6-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning when Cranston made things interesting with a pair of runs off Alverson, who entered in relief of Waldek. But Clifton Park put the game out of Cran-ston’s reach with a five-run seventh inning, highlighted by Richard Drum’s two-run single.

Waldek picked up his second win of the tour-nament with five solid innings of work. The off-speed specialist allowed three runs on four hits in five innings of work.

“I caught lightening in a bottle twice,” said Frey. “He’s been throwing strikes and getting people off-balance [at the plate] all year.”

Clifton Park will meet the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal game between Meridian and Guilderland in Thursday’s semifinal.

“I told the guys that it’s great to be in the top four, but if we don’t go home with any hardware, it will be a disappointment,” said Frey.

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