The Clover High School baseball team entered this week riding the momentum of a doubleheader sweep at home the first day of spring break.
Taking advantage of strong pitching and timely hitting, the Blue Eagles defeated Lancaster 3-0 in the first game last week and followed that win with a dramatic 2-1 victory against the Rock Hill Bearcats.
Senior pitcher Patrick Love shut out the Bruins in the first game.
“Patrick had a strong pitching effort,” head coach Darrell VanDyke said.
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VanDyke also praised the performance of sophomore pitcher Jimmy Marcelli in the second game. “Jimmy had 72 pitches in eight innings,” said VanDyke.
The Blue Eagles survived a close extra-inning contest against the visiting Bearcats in the second game.
With the score knotted at one in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Blue Eagles threatened to end the game but came up short. With two outs, senior Davis McCarter singled and later stole second.
Marcelli got an infield single that left runners at first and third, but the potential rally fell short and the score remained tied, forcing an eighth inning.
Rock Hill appeared to have taken the lead in the top of the eighth. With a runner at second, a Bearcat hitter belted a solid single to right field.
The Rock Hill third-base coach gave the runner the green light to score what was sure to be the go-ahead run, but Blue Eagles right-fielder Grayson Smith unleashed a game-changing throw that caught the runner at home plate.
“It was an awesome feeling when the runner was called out at the plate,” Smith said after the game. “I was thinking about the throw that had to be made before the play.”
Riding the momentum of Smith’s play, the Blue Eagles gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Corey Parham drew a walk. Barrett Courtwright, a dangerous hitter all season, stepped to the plate and doubled home Parham with the winning run.
Courtwright said it was “good to get the winning hit, but I’m more excited about a win for our team.”
“It’s not about me,” said Courtwright. “It’s all about the team. This is a big win for us.”
“Grayson made an outstanding throw from right-field,” said VanDyke. “Our outfielders have strong arms.”
VanDyke said winning two region games in one day is a difficult task, but that “The kids have been playing solid baseball and having fun.” “We’ve had strong pitching, good defense and timely hitting,” said VanDyke.
VanDyke said the doubleheader sweep kept the Blue Eagles in the playoff mix, pending the outcome of crucial games this week.
“We need help to make the playoffs,” he said. “You never know about the wild-card situation.”
This week’s schedule for the Blue Eagles ends with a trip to York at 6 p.m. to face the Cougars in the final regular-season game.