By Dave Wagner
Clovis’ Richard Urban had a pretty busy first game in Tuesday’s West Texas Baseball League doubleheader against Amarillo Tascosa at Bell Park.
After catching the first three innings, Urban worked four scoreless frames in relief of starter Luke Gray, retiring the last 10 hitters in a row. He also drove in six runs with a homer and two singles as the Wildcats posted a 9-5 win over the Texans.
Tascosa (5-4) came back to win the second game 5-4, dropping Clovis to a 4-3 record for the summer.
Urban, a senior at Clovis High next year, was the Wildcats’ regular catcher during the spring season. He did get to pitch in a couple of games, but has begun to see more action on the mound this summer in preparation for next spring.
“When I was in Little League, I used to pitch; that was my normal position,” Urban said. “I took up catching in the junior leagues because I threw my arm out.”
Against the Texans, Urban gave up a pair of one-out singles in the fourth before getting Tascosa catcher Karolton Banks to ground sharply into a double play. He then retired the Texans in order in each of the final three innings.
“He throws strikes,” Clovis coach Brian Cronk said of Urban. “He gets a lot of ground balls, and we’re able to make plays behind him.”
Urban made quick work of Tascosa despite the fact he didn’t strike anybody out.
“I don’t really bring a lot of speed,” he said. “My job is to throw strikes.”
With the score tied 5-5, Clovis took control with a four-run fifth. Urban hit a two-run, bases-loaded single, and John Props and Matt Ulibarri later added run-scoring hits, the latter on a drag bunt.
Tascosa scored all five of its runs in the third for a 5-2 lead, but Urban followed singles by Sean Cruce and Mark Young with a three-run, opposite-field homer to right in the bottom of the inning to tie the score.
Cruce and Young also went 3 for 3 in the game batting directly ahead of Urban, whose home run was the only one of 14 Clovis hits to go for extra bases.
Urban went through a slump during the Cats’ district schedule in the spring, but he seems to have come out of it.
“He’s been swinging it real well all summer and hitting it on the screws,” Cronk said. “That’s been a big plus for us.”
It may not have needed it, but the home run got a boost from a brisk breeze blowing toward the barrier in right. “The pitch was on the outside corner, so I was thinking right field,” Urban said.
“I’ve been in the cages all this week, and I’m starting to wait back on the ball.”
Tascosa led 5-1 in the second game and held on after the Wildcats scored three times in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Young, Urban’s RBI double and Ryan Denton’s run-scoring single.
Bubba Montoya was the losing pitcher for Clovis. He allowed six hits and four runs in five innings, walking four and striking out six.