Wildcats earn first sweep of season

Clovis senior Sean Cruce, right, tries to break up a double play under Roswell Goddard senior Jesse Garza during the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.(CNJ staff photo: Jesse Wolfersberger)

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

Thanks to Mother Nature, Clovis senior Matt Ulibarri knows his Bondsian effort on Saturday will have an asterisk attached to it.

“Well, the wind was blowing 50 miles per hour out to right field,” Ulibarri said. “That kind of helps a little bit. But the first one would have been out either way, I don’t care.”

The centerfielder was 3-for-4 with two home runs, a triple and four RBI, leading the Wildcats to a 7-6 win in the first game of a doubleheader against Roswell Goddard at Bell Park, snapping the Cats’ five-game losing streak.

Clovis (9-12) kept up the momentum in the second game, mercy-ruling the Rockets 15-5 in six innings. Sean Cruce was 3-for-4 with four RBI, Jared Kizer was 1-for-3 with three RBI, Daniel Casarez went 3-for-3, and Ulibarri stayed hot, going 3-for-4 with four runs scored. Josh Nine had two solo home runs in the losing effort for Goddard (7-12).

The sweep was Clovis’ first of the season. Cats coach Shane Shallenberger said Saturday could represent a turning point in the season.

“I hope we’re starting to click together a little bit,” Shallenberger said. “We’re playing well in all facets of the game.”

Down 5-2 in the fourth inning of game 1, the Cats scored four runs to take the lead, three coming on Ulibarri’s second home run of the game.

The senior’s first homer was a solo shot in the third inning that sailed well over the right field wall.

“They can’t say that one was windblown,” Ulibarri said of his first homer. “But the second one definitely was. I’ll admit it.”
Rockets coach Steve Nunez said his pitchers were doing all they could to try and retire Clovis’ lead-off hitter.

“We couldn’t get him out,” Nunez said of Ulibarri. “We used everything. He hit pretty much everything.”

The senior said because his team struggled in district play, sweeping Saturday’s doubleheader is crucial to the Cats’ playoff resume.

“It’s good,” Ulibarri said. “We need to get some wins under our belt so we can make the playoffs. The more wins you’ve got, the better chance you’ve got.”

With his team 0-4 in District 4-5A, Shallenberger said he’s tempered his expectations about an automatic playoff bid, and he’s hoping Saturday’s sweep will show the playoff selection committee his team deserves to make the postseason.

“Realistically, winning district probably isn’t going to happen,” he said. “We could maybe sneak into second, but more importantly we need to show that we’re a good team.”