The York Comprehensive High School baseball team ended the season with a 6-4 win over Clover at the YCHS baseball complex.
Coach Scot Kiggans, who announced his resignation before the game, praised hurler Ryan Gilbert. The junior pitched seven innings, striking out six Blue Eagle batters and not allowing a walk.
“Ryan was on his game and wanted the baseball,” said Kiggans. “He threw on Tuesday and said Wednesday he wanted to pitch on Friday. So I said yes.”
Finishing the season with back-to-back wins, Friday’s victory was a proud moment for the YCHS seniors, who each did a belly slide at home plate in a postgame ritual cheered by their teammates.
“It was great beating Clover our final game,” said senior Will Horne. “We won our last two games.”
Like many seniors playing their last game, Horne said his high school career has gone by too fast. “Five years ago, I was 4 feet tall, playing rec ball,” Horne recalls. “It’s hard to believe I just played my last game.”
The Cougars pushed three runs across the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a tie and defeat the Blue Eagles on Senior Night.
Senior Austen Clinton got the Cougars rolling with a two-out base hit in the third inning.
Clinton’s hit opened the flood gates as RayRay Ellis, Adam Hofffman and John Moorefield had consecutive hits, staking the Cougars to a 3-1 lead.
Hoffman’s single to center field allowed Clinton to cross the plate. Following a balk, Moorefield’s hit up the middle plated Ellis and Hoffman.
Ellis made his presence felt in the top of the third inning, spearing Corey Parham’s line drive to center and negating Clover’s scoring opportunity.
The Cougars’ half of the sixth proved decisive.
Moorefield, a consistent hitter all season who was 2-for-3 for the game, ignited the rally with a one-out infield single. Will Prince followed with another infield single.
With two outs, Harrison Childers belted a hit to left that got by the left-fielder, sending Moorefield and Prince across the plate.
Gilbert helped his own cause with a single to right field that scored Childers.
The visiting Blue Eagles were equal to the challenge for much of the game, knotting the score at three-all in a productive fifth inning.
Key hits in the inning included Barry Courtwright’s single to right center, scoring Davis McCarter, who had tripled. Zane Vanhook’s base hit to center drove home Jimmy Marcelli.
The CHS team dotted the scoreboard first in the second inning when Van Hook doubled and scored on Chase Galant’s sac fly.
“It was typical York-Clover, a hard fought game,” said coach Darrell VanDyke. “York took advantage of scoring opportunities. Credit their pitcher.”
The CHS coach lauded the Clover players for marked improvement from last season and remaining in playoff contention down the stretch.
“The loss to York hurt our playoff chances,” he said.