By Kevin Wilson
Behind Seth Clabaugh, the Rams are going forward with what already looks to be a huge turnaround. What they don’t want to do is look back.
Clabaugh improved to 4-0 on the season and pitched his second shutout of the season, 10-0 over Depew, Okla., Saturday at Ram Field.
The Rams (6-1) are a win away from matching last season’s total, and could exceed it by winning two of three games at the Silver City Invitational. However, that’s not a goal Portales coach Greg Hill has in mind.
“That’s not even what we’re thinking about,” Hill said. “It’s a different year and our goal isn’t to ever think about last year. We want to go out, play catch and hit the ball.”
They played catch for most of the game, but didn’t start hitting until late against the Hornets (2-3). Depew starting pitcher Robert Vickey had stayed with Clabaugh in a pitcher’s duel for the first four innings, but the game was out of hand by the time he was replaced midway through the fifth.
“We didn’t make some plays that would have kept his pitch count down,” Depew coach Sheldon Fairchild said. “He just ran out of gas and we pulled him two or three hitters two late.”
The Rams sent 10 batters to the plate in a six-run seventh, starting with a leadoff single from Ryan Acosta. Tyler Rutherford, Kevin Cheatham and Jacob Lopez all added RBI singles before junior Todd Mosier hit a two-run double to center.
Mosier went 1-for-3 on Saturday, his 17th birthday. He enjoyed two RBIs and a win on his birthday, and felt it was a lot better than the season he turned 16.
“Last year, we had a lot of seniors and not a lot of leadership,” Mosier said. “Now we have a mix and a lot of leadership. Everybody’s playing and contributing.”
When the Rams starting hitting off Vickery, and eventually reliever Duston Glisson, Clabaugh got more support than he would need. The senior left-hander threw all six innings, with three hits against 14 strikeouts.
“He pitched a hell of a ballgame,” Fairchild said of Clabaugh. “That’s one of the best pitchers we’re going to see all season. Whenever he needed an out, he could pump it up a little bit and get the out.”
Clabaugh has gone the distance in all three of his starts, though two games have been abbreviated due to the 10-run mercy rule. Clabaugh was originally going to start Friday’s game against Depew, but Hill changed the rotation after Clabaugh’s relief appearance for T.C. Nusser Thursday night.
“We wanted to give him an extra day,” Hill said of Clabaugh, who has 54 strikeouts in 22 innings. “T.C. was going to come in behind Seth (as a reliever), but Seth hasn’t needed anybody behind him yet.”
Clabaugh helped his own cause in the sixth inning, as one of four Rams to manage a base hit off Glisson. Clabaugh had an RBI single to score Nathan Brown, and Cheatham got a two-run single to finish off the game.
The win gave the Rams a weekend split against Depew, which won Friday night’s game 15-8. Hill felt his team took Friday’s game for granted, since they had beaten a Littlefield team that routed Depew on Thursday.
“Yesterday, we kind of just expected we were going to win. The kids have to learn to respect the game of baseball or it can bite you square in the butt.”