Clovis advances to state championship
Clovis senior Richard Urban started the game on the mound, helping the Wildcats advance to their first championship baseball game in school history. (CNJ staff photo/Rick White)
ALBUQUERQUE — Mark Young’s day went from futile to fruitful with one swing of the bat.
The Clovis High senior third baseman doubled to ignite a four-run rally in the top of the seventh inning as the Wildcats beat West Mesa 6-2 in a Class 5A state semifinal game at Isotopes Park.
After popping-up weakly in his two at-bats and committing a throwing error that allowed West Mesa to tie the score in the bottom of the sixth, Young led off the seventh by hammering a 1-2 fastball by West Mesa ace Richard Nacasio to straightaway center field.
“He was keeping me off balance all day,” said Young, who battled back this spring from a major knee injury suffered during football season. “He got me down 1-2 with some junk, so I knew he was going to come back and try to blow me away with some heat. I knew it and I tattooed it.”
Clovis coach Shane Shallenberger said Young was down on himself after allowing the tying run to score.
“When we went into that inning I told Mark he needed to forget everything that’s happened and he needed get on base because he was going to score the run to win the game,” Shallenberger said. “And he had a great at-bat, and that’s what happened.”
Leading 1-0 through five innings, West Mesa self-destructed with four errors in the final two innings. All the miscues came on bunts and infield grounders.
“We were in position to make the plays and win the game,” West Mesa coach Paul Chavez said. “Clovis put the pressure on us, and we just didn’t get it done.”
Young, whose double was the only ball hit out of the infield in Clovis’ last-inning rally, scored the winning run on a close play at the plate on John Props’ grounder to second. Two West Mesa errors and several mental mistakes contributed to the Wildcats’ final three runs.
Clovis (23-5) scored twice in the sixth on a walk, two errors and an infield single by Seefeld.
“I told the guys we’ve got to put the ball in play,” Shallenberger said. “Early on we were striking out quite a bit. We put it in play and we made things happen.”
Clovis managed just four hits of Nacasio, but stayed in the game behind another strong outing by senior right-hander Richard Urban and several outstanding plays in center field by junior Matt Ulibarri, including a diving catch near the warning track in the third inning when West Mesa loaded the bases but did not score.
“It was hit real hard in the gap and I didn’t think I was going to get it,” said Ulibarri, who used his speed to score a pair of runs. “I just put my head down and starting running. I lost the ball for a minute, but when I looked up it was right there. I kind of just dove and hoped I would catch it.”
Nacasio and right fielder Jacob Pacheco each collected a pair of hits for West Mesa (18-8-1).
Jason Seefeld picked up the win in relief of Urban, allowing one hit and striking out one in 1 2/3 innings.
at Isotopes Park
Clovis 6, West Mesa 2
Clovis 000 002 4 — 6 4 1
West Mesa 000 101 0 — 2 7 4
Richard Urban, Jason Seefeld (6) and Mark Replogle, Urban (6); Richard Nacasio and Leonard Calvillo. LOB — Clovis 4, West Mesa 7. 2B — Clovis, Mark Young. West Mesa, Jacob Pacheco. 3B — West Mesa, Nacasio. T — 2:01.
Top hitters — Clovis, Young 1-3, Seefeld 1-4, Urban 1-3, John Props 1-2. West Mesa, Nacasio 2-2, Pacheco 2-3.
Pitching — Clovis, Urban, 6 hits, 5 so, 1 bb; Seefeld, 1 hit, 1 so, 1 bb. West Mesa, Nacasio, 4 hits, 7 so, 2 bb.
Records — Clovis 23-5, West Mesa 18-8-1.