Inconsistent Wildcats split with Alamogordo

Clovis’ Nathan Dodge heads for first base for an unassisted out during the first game of a doubleheader against Alamogordo Wednesday at Bell Park. Clovis dropped the first game 5-4, but rebounded to win the second 12-2. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

Forget curiosity, inconsistency is killing these Cats.

Clovis split a doubleheader with Alamogordo on Wednesday at Bell Park, losing the opener 5-4 before jumping on the Tigers in the second game and winning 12-2.

Clovis coach Shane Shallenberger said his team cannot maintain focus, especially at the plate — the Wildcats scored all 16 runs in the doubleheader in three innings.

“I’m real frustrated. It’s a frustrating team,” he said. “We have a lot of talent and they’re not playing.”

Clovis junior Sean Cruce said the team’s focus problems come from being too comfortable with a lead.

“We just get complacent,” he said, although he was unsure why.

Clovis scored the first 12 runs of the nightcap, including 10 in the second inning as the Wildcats chased Alamogordo starter Tom Ehler.

Cruce and Gray went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the nightcap. Junior Devin Sweet added a two-run double and scored twice.

Sophomore Jonathan Sisneros limited the Tigers to just a hit in three-plus innings before giving way to sophomore Cade Wheeler, who allowed two unearned runs in the fifth.

“The kid just had us off balance,” Alamogordo coach Scott Rhodes said of Sisneros. “He wasn’t throwing hard.”

In the opener, Alamogordo’s Billy Gibbons drilled a game-winning two-run single up the middle with two outs in the top of the seventh to give the Tigers a 5-4 lead.

Both runs were unearned off starting and losing pitcher Luke Gray.

A throwing error on a grounder to third followed by a fielding error in left put runners on second and third set up Gibbons’ game-winner.

Clovis (7-7) has already lost more games this season then they did all of last year, when they went 23-6.

Rhodes seemed almost apologetic about the first-game win, which broke a five-game losing streak for the Tigers (6-7).

“It really wasn’t that pretty of a game,” Rhodes said. “We really won that game on errors.”

Gray pitched a complete game, allowing three earned runs after being rocked in his previous start.

“Luke threw a good game,” Shallenberger said. “He threw good enough to win.”

Alamogordo scored three runs in the second inning, but Clovis responded with four in the bottom frame, including a two-run triple by Matt Ulibarri. Clovis loaded the bases in the fifth, but did not score against Bud Legarde, who went the distance for the Tigers.

“We didn’t swing the bat at all. We have a 50 mph wind and we can’t get it into the outfield,” Shallenberger said.

Shallenberger said if the team can’t play more consistently, they can forget about making it out of district play.

“If we can’t stay focused for a doubleheader, how are we going to stay focused for a three-game series?” Shallenberger said.