The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Clovis sweeps Sandia to extend winning streak to 12

 

April 26, 2018

Tony Bullocks

Clovis senior Colson Faircloth delivers a pitch in the top of the first inning of Tuesday's District 2-6A doubleheader opener against Sandia at Bell Park. The Wildcats defeated Sandia 2-1 in the first game, then took the nightcap 9-0 for their 12th-straight victory.

CLOVIS — A scoreless-inning streak ended, but a chance at a district title and No. 1 state tournament seed did not.

Clovis’ baseball team rallied in the sixth inning for a 2-1 victory over Sandia in the opener of a doubleheader Tuesday at Bell Park. The Wildcats then completed a twin bill sweep by zipping the Matadors 9-0 in the nightcap.

As a result, Clovis improved to 8-0 in District 2-6A play (21-3 overall) to keep pace with LaCueva, four days before the two will play in Albuquerque to end the regular season.

“I’m very proud of the kids on the way they competed,” Clovis coach Richard Cruce said. “They just don’t quit.”

Clovis trailed the opener 1-0 after a Sandia run came home on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice in the third inning. Gone was the Wildcats’ scoreless streak after 45 innings.

More importantly, the ’Cats were behind, and the 1-0 score still held in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Sandia pitcher Ricky Apodaca, who had relieved starter Milo Pehrson an inning earlier, came up with a strikeout of Sebastian Nunez to start off Clovis’ half of the sixth. Kayden Shober then smacked a one-out single to right-center, only the Wildcats’ fourth hit of the game.

Anthony Gonzales then hit one to Sandia second baseman Tyler Burch, who looked like he was going for the tag of Shober as he headed to second. Burch, however, missed the tag and it was too late to get Gonzales at first base. Everyone safe, Clovis runners on first and second, still one out.

After a ground out by Joe Gallegos pushed the runners to second and third, Cam Kuykendall stepped to the plate with the tying and go-ahead ducks on the pond, but two outs. Kuykendall soon had two strikes on him, a strike away from the threat being wasted.

He fouled off a pitch. Fouled off another one. And a few more after that to stay alive.

Then came a low fastball from Apodaca. Kuykendall greeted it and smacked it to center field. Shober and Gonzales came home to put Clovis up 2-1.

“I was just looking for a good pitch to drive,” Kuykendall said. “I didn’t really drive that one, but I kind of got lucky, found a hole, and it worked out.”

Kuykendall said he wasn’t looking for a low fastball, just any way to make contact, any way to keep Sandia from escaping the inning unscathed.

“Two strikes,” he said. “I was just trying to protect and put the ball in play.”

When he did, Clovis finally had its first lead of the day. Now another challenge — preserving the lead through the top of the seventh.

Enter Garrett Langrell in relief of starter Colson Faircloth. Langrell’s first pitch was high and to the right, well out of the zone. But he quickly found the plate and struck out Garrett Tatum. Next up, Seth Casias, and Langrell struck him out, too.

Langrell was ahead 0-2 on the next batter, Dante Caviggia. But Caviggia hung in and beat out an infield single to keep Sandia afloat.

Apodaca was up next with a chance for offensive heroics, but Langrell forced a fly out to left field. Game over, Clovis wins.

“Garrett came in and did a great job in relief there,” Cruce said.

Game 2 wasn’t as dramatic. Colder and windier, but less dramatic.

Connor Langrell kept the Matadors handcuffed, allowing just one hit in six innings of work. It was the third straight game in which Langrell surrendered only a hit, after throwing consecutive complete-game one-hitters in his prior two outings.

Clovis’ bats were a little more lively in the second game, and the Wildcats also took advantage of some Sandia miscues. After a scoreless first inning, Clovis plated three in the second, two when Gallegos reached on a throwing error and one more after Gallegos stole second and an attempt to steal third resulted in another throwing error, allowing him to come home.

In the third inning, Jace Piepkorn scored on a throw to first base after a dropped third strike on Faircloth, and Garrett Langrell scored on a pitch in the dirt, making it 5-0.

Clovis added two more in the fifth, as Nunez reached on an error that allowed Garrett Langrell to score, and Nunez eventually came in on an RBI single from Gonzales. A two-run single by Faircloth in the bottom of the sixth completed the game’s scoring.

Garrett Langrell pitched the seventh inning of the nightcap, too, overcoming cramps to do so.

When it was over, Clovis had a new scoreless innings streak going, this one a relatively modest 11 1/3 innings, resulting in both Faircloth and Connor Langrell improving to 7-0. The Wildcats now hope to carry that momentum into their crucial doubleheader at LaCueva (20-2, 8-0) this weekend.

“LaCueva’s 8-0, we’re 8-0,” Cruce said. “It sets up a big matchup for Saturday.”

“It’s great,” Kuykendall said. “We have a chance to play for a district championship now. It’s something Clovis doesn’t get to do a lot. So we’re excited.”

 

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