CLOVER -- With competitive Wheels Invitational Tournament games against quality opponents as a measuring stick, the Clover High School Blue Eagles are primed to make a move as Region 3-AAAA play resumes this week.
"We competed well in the Wheels tournament," CHS head baseball coach Darrell Van Dyke said of last week's Rock Hill-based event.
After several narrow losses in the prestigious event, including two extra inning games, the Blue Eagles closed out the tournament with an 11-4 win over Westside.
Previous losses were 7-4 to region foe South Pointe, 6-4 to Greenwood and 6-5 to a Chaminade Prep (Fla.) team that advanced to Saturday's championship game.
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The Clover contingent hit the ball well in the tournament, pounding 36 hits in four games and raising the team batting average by double digits.
Said Van Dyke of the team's hitting spree, "We hit the ball well for the most part, but there were times when we were unable to come through with keys hits when runners were in scoring position.
"We'd been setting the table but you've got to hit the ball with ducks on the pond."
Which the Blue Eagles were able to do in the win over Westside.
"We came through with runners on base against Westside," Van Dyke said.
The Clover pitching trio of Ross Bailes, David Stone and Jeremy Long made their presence felt at the plate in the Wheels tournament.
Bailes and Stone each hit two home runs and have three round-trippers for the season. Long also homered.
In an earlier game prior to the Wheels tournament, Clover defeated Rock Hill 7-6 as Stone picked up win number four.
Bailes and Will Hall each had two hits for the CHS squad.
Van Dyke hopes the Blue Eagles will continue to hit the ball well against region competition.
The CHS coach said the region has more balance this season from top to bottom.
"I think the pitching was a little stronger overall last season," Van Dyke said.
He believes any team in the region is capable of making a move.
"York is playing well with one loss in the region and Northwestern has two," noted Van Dyke. "A couple of wins could put us in the thick of the race."
He added, "The region games are all that matter. We need to continue to improve and take care of business."
The Blue Eagles host Lancaster at 7 p.m. Friday at home.