Though they missed a state playoff berth, the Clover High School baseball team ended the season on a high note last week, defeating York 3-1 in eight innings.
It was an entertaining game from start to finish before what some said was the largest crowd ever in the York-Clover baseball rivalry, at York.
Clover senior pitcher Barrett Courtwright went the distance in a gritty effort.
“My teammates helped me out all year,” said Courtwright. “They come through in big situations. I just closed it out for them.”
Courtwright said he couldn’t help but notice the size of the crowd at the York Comprehensive High School baseball complex.
“It’s the most people I’ve ever seen at a high school baseball game,” he said. “I just wanted to get the ball and let it go.
“When it comes to the late innings, it’s right here.”
Blue Eagles head coach Hank Wofford said he was confident Courtwright would deliver a big performance.
“I had to leave Barrett in there and let him finish the game,” Wofford said after the game. “It was a rivalry game and he’s earned it. And what a way to end the game, a ground ball back to him.”
After trailing 1-0 since the first inning, the Blue Eagles tied the score in their half of the seventh.
Jimmy Marcelli led off the inning with a fly ball that was mishandled for a two-base error. Kaleb Strader followed with a well-placed bunt that moved Marcellie to third.
Marcellie scored the tying run on a wild pitch, sending the game to extra innings after York was unable to score in the bottom of the inning.
Clover assumed the lead in the top of the eighth. Justin Adams, who had doubled with one out, scored on a bases-loaded walk.
Strader later drew a walk, sending Cody Payne home for a 3-1 lead.
Courtwright got the final out in the bottom of the eighth on a come-back grounder to the mound with the bases loaded.
“After we found out we wouldn’t make the playoffs, I told our kids about the opportunity to go down there and make a statement at our archrival’s place,” said Wofford.
He said the large crowd at the game made a difference.
“These are the games you gotta love to be part of,” said Wofford. “This is the way our seniors get to remember their last baseball game, a 3-1 win at their field in front of a heck of a crowd.
“We appreciate our fans showing up tonight and staying behind us. That’s big,” he said.
Wofford praised York head coach Eddie Tisdale for reaching the playoffs.
“He’s done a great job with this bunch,” Wofford said. “Congratulations to them for making the playoffs. They’ve earned it.”
“I’m really, really proud of our guys tonight,” Wofford said.