Johnstown, Colts Elite baseball backing Bruning family after tragic loss

·3 min read

HANOVER — Brad Boroff received a call from Clay Bruning looking for an opportunity to pitch Friday, and he did not hesistate.

Boroff jumped at the chance to have Johnstown’s ace right-hander make a brief return to his Colts Elite Boroff 17U, but this weekend is about far more than seven innings on the mound. Bruning’s mother April unexpectedly died Tuesday, and being with his baseball family only made sense.

"Clay is an exceptional young guy with a great heart and a great attitude. He is resilient beyond belief," said Boroff, who was assisted by April Bruning last summer. He called her a “pillar of the community” in Johnstown. His twin sons Cole and Chase and Evan Harper join Clay Bruning as a part of the core of the Johnstown baseball and golf programs.

"He couldn't make the trip with the (Ohio Bison 18U) this weekend, so he wanted to pitch here," Brad Boroff added. "He pitched for us last year. We welcomed him in and made a home for him."

Bruning threw a complete game Friday during the Colts’ 13-4 victory against Punching Tickets. The Colts later used an eight-run fifth inning to rally past the host Ohio Dirtbags 16U at Licking Valley during the Can of Corn Prospect Tournament, moving to 3-0 during pool play.

"(Bruning) is like a brother to us, and we just do our best to support him. Our families are really close, so whatever he needs, we have him. We will be there for him," said Harper, whose RBI single scored Cole Boroff after Boroff doubled home a run during the onslaught.

Jami Brett quickly began a GoFundMe to support the Bruning family, and it already has raised more than $13,500 as of Friday night. April Bruning is survived by her husband Rich and their daughter Sydney in addition to Clay.

"It's a tough blow this week, but we've rallied together, and we've embraced each other," Brad Boroff said. "We have created a great environment to play some baseball."

Clay Bruning rounds third base for the Colts Elite Boroff 17U against the host Ohio Dirtbags 16U during the Can of Corn Prospect Tournament at Licking Valley on Friday, July 1, 2022. Bruning's mom April died on Tuesday, and the Johnstown community is rallying around the family.
Clay Bruning rounds third base for the Colts Elite Boroff 17U against the host Ohio Dirtbags 16U during the Can of Corn Prospect Tournament at Licking Valley on Friday, July 1, 2022. Bruning's mom April died on Tuesday, and the Johnstown community is rallying around the family.

The Can of Corn is a 15-team 17U tournament with pool games being played at Valley, Newark, Heath and Utica. The Athletics 16U, Ohio Stingers 16U/17U and Licking County Cyclones are among those also competing with the semifinals and finals set for Sunday at Denison.

It is a step up in competition for the Dirtbags, whose core earned valuable starting experience for Valley’s varsity team during the spring. Carter Sopher moved up from the 15U team to deliver an RBI single in the second inning, and Gunner Bowman’s suicide squeeze scored two runs to give the Dirtbags a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth.

"We competed, but we had a bad three outs," said Dirtbags coach Rob Howell, whose team will play in the 16U division of the Buckeye Elite next weekend. "We handled ourselves the way we should have. It seems that's been our way the whole summer where we've had one bad inning."

Carter Hartman watches the runner heading toward third base before setting to throw to first for the host Ohio Dirtbags 16U against the Colts Elite Boroff 17U during the Can of Corn Prospect Tournament at Licking Valley on Friday, July 1, 2022. The Colts beat the Dirtbags 9-4.
Carter Hartman watches the runner heading toward third base before setting to throw to first for the host Ohio Dirtbags 16U against the Colts Elite Boroff 17U during the Can of Corn Prospect Tournament at Licking Valley on Friday, July 1, 2022. The Colts beat the Dirtbags 9-4.

Brycen Smith allowed just one run in four innings for the Dirtbags, who edged Freedom Elite 16U 8-7 on Thursday to earn its 10th victory of the summer. Wyatt Binckley tripled against the Colts and later followed Ethan Lohr’s double with a sacrifice fly.

Landon Kennard and Matt Rico had RBI hits in the fifth inning for the Colts, and left-hander Noah Clawson, one several players from Big Walnut, went the distance on the mound. The core has grown up together and will finish with a bang, playing in the Buckeye Elite 18U before heading to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for the Triple Crown Summer Nationals 18U.

"The chemistry is through the roof," said Harper, who joined the team last summer.

ksnyder@newarkadvocate.com

740-973-4541

Twitter: @newarkurt

This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Johnstown, Colts Elite baseball backing Bruning family after death