For Clovis, it’s split and wait

Staff report
CLOVIS — If nothing else, Clovis High’s baseball team has made life a bit miserable for its District 4-5A rivals this spring.

Probably needing a sweep of Friday’s doubleheader with Hobbs at Bell Park to get into the postseason, though, the Wildcats came up a bit short.

CHS got a combined four-hit shutout from junior Matt Lanier and sophomore Austin Adams for a 6-0 victory in the opener before Hobbs lefty Clay Northcutt came within an out of a no-hitter in a 4-1 Eagles win in the nightcap.

The outcome leaves the Cats (8-18, 3-5 district) in third place behind Carlsbad (20-6, 5-3) and Hobbs (16-10, 4-4), and probably will make it tough to get into the Class 5A state tournament when pairings are announced on Sunday.

“We definitely needed to sweep,” CHS coach Shane Leatherwood said. “I think we still have a shot, but it would’ve been helpful to get second place.
“I know we’re playing good baseball; both of those teams have been top-10 teams all year.”

Clovis split both doubleheaders with Hobbs this season, and managed a split against Carlsbad at Bell Park.

Lanier, who has been relegated to designated hitter duty for most of the past three weeks due to a rib injury, kept the Eagles at bay in the opener through six innings. He threw 101 pitches, walking three and striking out seven.

Hobbs loaded the bases with two out in the fifth before Lanier got Edgar Espinoza on a called third strike, and had three other innings when two men reached.

Two of those were after two were out. In the sixth, Hobbs put the first two men on, but the rally was snuffed out on an unassisted line drive double play by first baseman Peyton Casey and another strikeout.

“Matt threw real well,” Leatherwood said. “He’s trying to prove he’s one of the best pitchers in the state, and I think he is.”

Adams worked a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out two.

Meantime, sophomore second baseman Keaton Greenwalt hit a pair of RBI singles and the Cats put it out of reach a four-run sixth, including back-to-back, bases-loaded walks to Derik Kuykendall and Kurt Kelley.

In the second game, Espinoza delivered a two-run single in the third off junior Landon Williams, and Nathan Ross hit an RBI single and later scored in a two-run fifth.

Northcutt, who walked two and struck out one, kept the Cats in check until the seventh when Williams led off with a walk and scored from third on Adams’ two-out single to center.

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