Clovis up against dangerous offense

Clovis junior Cade Wheeler pitches during the Cats’ 19-1 win over Texico on Tuesday. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

CNJ staff

With one spectacular and one solid start in his last two games, senior Sean Cruce got the nod as the Wildcats’ starting pitcher when 13th-seeded Clovis goes on the road to face fourth-seeded Cibola at 1 p.m. today in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament.

Cruce pitched a complete game shutout in an 8-0 victory against Carlsbad in April. Cruce’s gem gave the Cavemen, the state tournament’s top-seed, only their second loss on the season.

“He’s been our most consistent pitcher all year,” Clovis coach Shane Shallenberger said. “In the last round of district he pitched well against Hobbs as well.”

Against Hobbs, the senior was touched up for four runs in the first inning, but settled down and gave up no runs for his final 3 1/3 innings of work.

The Cats (11-14) will need Cruce to be on his game, as Cibola (21-4-1) touts one of the best offenses in the state.

The Cougars have scored 265 runs this year, second only to La Cueva’s 268 in Class 5A.

Shallenberger said the Cats will pitch to Cibola no differently than normal.

“You approach it like any other game,” Shallenberger said. “We’ve got to play to our pitching. We’ll work in and out and change speeds — mix it up.”