By Dave Wagner
It’s pretty cut and dried this weekend for both teams when Clovis High takes on Eldorado in a three-game District 4-5A baseball series in Albuquerque — win at least two games or, in all likelihood, kiss your postseason chances good-bye.
The Wildcats, Eagles and Carlsbad are in a virtual tie for the district lead, although Clovis (12-8, 4-2 district) actually trails Eldorado (11-10, 6-3) and Carlsbad (15-7, 6-3) by one-half game. The Cavemen are idle this weekend.
Only two of the teams will advance to Class 5A regional competition.
“We need two out of three to make the playoffs, and we need to sweep out (the final six games) to win the district,” second-year CHS coach Shane Shallenberger summed up.
Here is the picture, in short:
n If the Cats win twice, they would be 6-3 with a three-game home series remaining next weekend against Hobbs. Eldorado, at 7-5, would have to hope for either a Hobbs sweep, or two losses by Carlsbad in a three-game series at Manzano.
n If Eldorado wins twice, the Eagles would finish 8-4 in district — 2-1 against all four opponents — and thus would have the tiebreaker over Clovis. They would then need one loss by Carlsbad at Manzano to win the district championship on a tiebreaker.
n A sweep by Eldorado would give the Eagles the district title. A Clovis sweep would clinch a playoff berth and give the Cats the inside track on the district title.
“We know if we don’t win two out of three, we’re done,” senior first baseman Drew Hatley said. “Two out of three is within our grasp, but our goal is to win three out of three. Our goal is to win the district.”
Shallenberger admits Eldorado has surprised him in taking two of three from each of the other three district foes. The Eagles not only won twice against Carlsbad, they had the Cavemen down 6-3 after six innings before giving up a five runs in the top of the seventh in an 8-6 loss.
“I’m a little surprised, especially after their coach (Jim Johns) said they were having a rebuilding year,” Shallenberger said.
Hatley said the Eagles, who gave Johns his 300th career win in 16 seasons at Eldorado with a sweep of Manzano on Saturday, are a different type of team than they’ve been in the past.
“They’ve got (pitchers) that throw hard and try to beat you with the fastball,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the Eldorado of the past with big 6-4, 220-pound guys. Now they’re going to try to beat us with pitching and by scoring a few runs.
“I think when we saw them earlier (at a tournament in Rio Rancho) they were struggling quite a bit. But it sounds like they’ve grown up since then, and I’m sure they’ll be tough as always.”
Senior Darren Davis is scheduled to get the pitching start for the Cats in Friday’s 4 p.m. single game. Juniors Mark Young and Robert Riggins will likely go in Saturday’s 10 a.m. twin bill, although Shallenberger said he’s not sure of the order.
Shallenberger said his team, which is averaging slightly more than nine runs a game in district play, needs to be aggressive at the plate.
“I think we just need to outhit them and win it that way,” he said. “We need to put the ball in play and put pressure on them to make plays.”