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

The Staff of The News 

'Cats finish strong


May 5, 2019

Jamie Cushman

Clovis second baseman Anthony Garcia barehands a slow-rolling ground ball before firing over to first base for an out during the Wildcats' matchup against Roswell Friday at Bell Park.

CLOVIS - Clovis' baseball team may have played its last game of 2019. And if that is indeed so, the Wildcats exited in style Friday.

Hosting District 4-5A opponent Roswell at Bell Park, the 'Cats pulled off a doubleheader sweep by rallying in both games, beating the Coyotes 4-1 in the opener and 5-3 in the nightcap.

With that pair of wins, Clovis finished its regular season at 9-17. An encouraging end, but perhaps not enough to crack the state playoff top 16.

"I don't know," Clovis head coach Richard Cruce said on Saturday afternoon. "Looking at it last night and looking at it a little bit today, I think we're going to be just left out, honestly. I'd be ecstatic if we were able to get in, but I think we're going to be one team out, I think we're going to be a 17."

Whether Friday's sweep ends up being the season finale or just a momentum-builder for states, it's always good to get wins, especially against a district rival.

Both teams' first opponent Friday was lightning, which delayed the twinbill a bit before they resumed at about 5:45 p.m. In the opener, Roswell took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning against Clovis starter Trevon Dickson, who settled right down after that and didn't allow another run.

The Wildcats remained in that 1-0 hole until the bottom of the fourth inning, when the hit-batsmen brigade allowed them to load the bases, which Jeremiah Lucero unloaded with a bases-clearing triple, a three-run knock that fueled a four-run inning.

"Jeremiah came up big," Cruce said. "He struggled in his first at-bat. Before his second at-bat I had a chance to talk to him and we visited about being short to the baseball. ... And good things happened."

That was it for scoring by either team. Dickson scattered four hits in a solid performance.

"He pitched well," Cruce said, "pounded the zone very well, got out of a few jams in the middle innings that kept us in the lead. I thought he competed very well on the mound."

Clovis faced a bigger deficit in the nightcap, as Roswell plated three in the top of the second inning. But a big four-run third with an insurance run in the sixth, helped Clovis prevail again.

This time, three consecutive walks put the Wildcats in business in the bottom of the third, and a two-out error kept their inning alive while scoring two runs. An infield single and a passed ball scored two more to make it 4-1.

Norbert Archibeque was the winning hurler, giving Clovis solid pitching in both ends of the doubleheader.

"Norbert pitched unbelievable," Cruce said. "He had all three pitches under control. If we don't make a mistake in the second inning, he gets out of it with a shutout. I'm very proud of how he's grown up this year. .. He's gotten better and better as the year's gone on."

If Clovis is done for the season, it was one that went in not-too-surprising fashion. Only Anthony Gonzales returned from last year's state 6A quarterfinalist team, and the young Wildcats spent the late winter and spring finding their way, jelling as a group. There were positive signs and rough patches, as expected for so many inexperienced varsity players. They did sweep area rival Portales, they did sweep those last two games against Roswell, bouncing back quickly from an 8-0 road loss to the Coyotes on Thursday night.

"This was a transitional year," Cruce said, "but it was also a year of growth. We saw some young kids grow up and get better. We had our growing pains, but we made strides."

Gonzales will be missed. The longtime varsity regular - who for reasons perhaps known only to him and his maker liked stepping into the Bell Park batter's box with Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" playing on the p.a. - had attributes not easy to find. There was no "maybe" about his bat, glove and leadership.

"It's going to be hard to replace Anthony at shortstop," Cruce acknowledged. "Any time you lose a player who's played three years for you, it's going to be tough to replace him."

Most of the team should come back intact, though, especially on the mound.

"We return about 100 percent of our innings this year," Cruce said. "So we look for some bright spots from those guys."


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