Enquirer Herald


York Comprehensive High second baseman J. P. Duncan steps on second while turning a double play against Bayside High School from Virginia Beach, Va. during the Wheels Baseball Invitational tournament last week.
York Comprehensive High second baseman J. P. Duncan steps on second while turning a double play against Bayside High School from Virginia Beach, Va. during the Wheels Baseball Invitational tournament last week.

Clover High School baseball coach Darrell VanDyke understands the significance of the rivalry when York visits Blue Eagle Country Friday at 7 p.m.

He also anticipates more than the rivalry to be on the line.

Entering this week's play, the Blue Eagles were third in the Region 3-AAAA standings, a half-game up on Nation Ford.

Clover was scheduled to play Gaffney twice earlier in the week.

"We could finish anywhere from third to sixth in the region, depending on how the week goes," VanDyke said from his home Sunday night. "We need to take it one game at a time and work toward making the playoffs."

The Blue Eagles made their presence felt in last week's Wheels Invitational Baseball Tournament, advancing to the championship game before bowing to eventual champ Northwestern 8-1, Saturday.

"We hit the ball better and played good defense except for a couple innings in the last game," VanDyke said. "We are a young team that can look very good in one game and make you wonder what's going on in the next game.

"The kids played well in reaching the championship."

Clover defeated Jane Addams 14-0 and Brooke Point 5-4 before losing 6-3 to Rock Hill in a game that was closely played until the Bearcats' four-run sixth inning.

Kris Thompson, who was batting .397 for the season when play began this week, made the all-tournament team with a five-hit performance.

Hayden Hendry was batting .370.

The Blue Eagles' team batting average climbed to .265, a marked improvement from the team total the week before the Wheels tournament.

VanDyke said the most important thing for the less experienced players is to play as a team and contribute to the success of the team.

"I'm talking about laying down bunts, moving runners, understanding situational baseball," the CHS coach said. "Games are won by the number of runs a team scores, not the number of hits."

VanDyke said the rivalry with York is fun and the games are closely played in a playoff-like atmosphere.

"It reminds me of a rivalry I was involved with in North Carolina," he noted. "There's a mutual respect, which is good for the players, school and community."

With both teams seeking to improve their region status, York head coach Scott Kiggans said every game this week is pivotal.

"We know Friday's game at Clover is exciting for our seniors," said Kiggans. "It's the last time they will play Clover."

The Cougars were hoping to build from Saturday's 12-2 conquest of St. Peters (N. Y.) when this week's stretch of four games began.

The YCHS team won two games in the Wheels Invitational Tournament and extended the opposition to the limit in a 3-2 loss to Clarkston and a 4-3 setback to Bayside.

The other win was a 3-0 shellacking of South Pointe.

"Our kids came back from a tough loss Friday night to beat St. Peters," Kiggans said. "They responded well."

Kiggans said the Cougars need to win out this week to remain in the playoff hunt.

"All of our games are important this week," observed Kiggans. "The kids know what they have to do."

Senior standouts J. P. Duncan, Shane Waldrop and Aaron Wutrick know what they have to do.

"We need to carry over the momentum from Saturday's big win," commented Duncan. "It is important that we do the little things the coaches have taught us to do."

Duncan admitted it's hard to believe the season is nearly over.

"It 's amazing that we are down to the wire," he said. "This is it, the final stretch.

"Unfortunately, Friday is my last game against Clover. The excitement of the rivalry is what makes it so special."

Waldrop, too, said it's a big week for the Cougars, especially the seniors.

"We need to take the games one at a time and the hitting and pitching needs to come through." he said.

Waldrop, who has belted six home runs this season, said he goes to the plate wanting to make contact.

"If I hit a home run, it's a mistake," he said, grinning.

Wutrick said the Cougars need to hit the ball and the pitching needs to step up.

"Playing Clover the last time is a big thing for the seniors," he said.

The Cougars were scheduled to play Nation Ford and Rock Hill Tuesday and Wednesday.