Clovis hosts Eldorado in crucial series

Alamogordo’s Steven Hobbins scrambles back to the bag as Clovis first baseman Ryan Denton snags the throw from catcher Mark Replogle in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. CNJ photo by Rick White

By Dave Wagner

Clovis High’s District 4-5A baseball series this weekend against Eldorado at Bell Park boils down to a best-of-three playoff.

The teams play a 4 p.m. doubleheader on Friday and a 10 a.m. single contest on Saturday. Whichever team can win at least two games is likely to earn a berth in the Class 5A regionals in early May.

The Wildcats (16-4, 4-2 district) have managed to do that each of the past two seasons. Eldorado (11-9, 5-3) positioned itself for a possible playoff berth last weekend by sweeping Manzano.

A sweep either way this weekend would clinch a playoff berth; two out of three would put either team in an enviable position.

“I haven’t seen them at all, but I know they’re pretty good,” CHS coach Shane Shallenberger said of the Eagles. “They played Carlsbad tough; it looked like they had two games that could’ve gone either way.”

Homestanding Carlsbad (19-1, 8-1) swept Eldorado two weeks ago, but two of the losses were by one run.
Clovis gained its second consecutive postseason berth last year on the strength of winning the series with Eldorado in Albuquerque, sweeping a Saturday doubleheader after dropping the opener.

“I think they’re the same type of team (this year),” Shallenberger said. “They can hit, and if they get on a roll, they’re going to be tough to get out.”

The Eagles scored 24 runs last weekend in the series finale against Manzano.

Eagles coach Jim Johns, in his 17th season as head coach, said his squad’s record is indicative of an up-and-down season.

“Last year, the (district travel) schedule was in our favor and we still didn’t get it done,” he said. “This year, it favors Clovis and Carlsbad. But we’re hoping to play well — that’s the plan. We’ll see where the ball bounces.”

Senior catcher Noel Colbert is Eldorado’s best offensive player, Johns said, while the Eagles’ top pitchers are junior left-hander Greg Wilborn and senior right-hander Kyle Weiland.

“They’re a pretty solid team,” Johns said of Clovis. “(Seniors Jason) Seefeld and (Richard) Urban have been around for a while.

“I think it boils down to who pitches well. The last couple of years our defense has let us down, but hopefully we can catch the ball a little better this time.”

The Cats are coming off a disappointing split at home last weekend in a non-district doubleheader against an Alamogordo team they drubbed earlier this spring on the road. Ideally, the 6-1 first-game loss to the Tigers can serve as a wake-up call.

“I hope so,” Shallenberger said. “We didn’t show up with any focus or intensity that day.

“Sometimes when you’re ‘off,’ you’re off. We didn’t have a good day all the way around.”