CLOVER — The Clover High School baseball team entered this week’s play with a boost from the Blue Eagles’ nail-biting 1-0 win against South Pointe before spring break.
The Blue Eagles will continue Region 3-AAAA play by hosting the Lancaster Bruins on Friday. The game is slated for 7 p.m. at the CHS baseball complex.
Clover head coach Darrell VanDyke stresses the importance of a strong finish in region games down the stretch. “If we can finish the season strong, there could be an opportunity to get back into the playoff mix,” he said.
Clover hurler Patrick Love contributed to that effort when the South Pointe Stallions visited Blue Eagle Country in the final game before spring break.
Love, called up from the JV team midway through last season because of his success on the mound, baffled the South Pointe hitters , limiting the Stallions to two hits and no runs.
The junior right-hander mixed fastballs with off-speed breaking pitches.
“I was finding my spots and mixing my pitches,” Love said. “If you stay with your fastball, the hitters will catch up to it. I was locating my pitches in and out.”
Love said he felt good on the mound and was pitching with confidence. “If you don’t have confidence in what you do, you will not be successful,” he said.
The Blue Eagles got on the scoreboard during an eventful fifth inning. Cameron Sellers got things started with a slow roller to shallow third that he beat out for an infield hit.
Sellers advanced to second when the South Pointe catcher’s pick-off attempt went wide.
Davis McCarter later singled with one out. But the South Pointe left-fielder’s strong throw to the plate cut down the Clover base-runner.
McCarter took second base on the throw to the plate, moving into scoring position with Corey Parham stepping to the plate.
Parham made contact on a ground ball that made it between short and third, bouncing off the shortstop’s glove for a base hit that sent McCarter home to score the game’s lone run.
“I knew when I hit the ball it had a chance to through the infield between shortstop and third,” Parham said after the game.
“It felt great getting the winning hit in a close game.
VanDyke credited the win to Love’s pitching performance and the Blue Eagles’ solid defensive play. “Patrick pitched an outstanding game and we made no errors,” VanDyke said.
McCarter’s opportunistic base-running also got VanDyke’s attention.
VanDyke often makes reference to the little things it takes to win, and the South Pointe game was evidence of his coaching philosophy. “McCarter took second base when our runner was thrown out at the plate,” said VanDyke. “If he hadn’t taken second, he wouldn’t have scored.
“That’s how you win games.”
Love gave a dominant pitching performance. He kept pace with South Pointe hurler Ethan Hinson, who also pitched effectively.
“Winning a 1-0 game was a confidence-builder for the whole team,” Love said.
The Blue Eagles had scoring opportunities in the third and fourth innings. Sellers reached base on a walk in the third inning and put himself in scoring position by stealing second. A textbook bunt by Chase Galant moved Sellers to third.
Sellers was thrown out at the plate attempting to score on McCarter’s ground ball to third.
The Clover team had opportunities in the fourth inning when Chase Goldberg and Zane Van Hook opened with back-to-back singles, but Hinson retired the next three Clover batters in order.
After Friday’s Lancaster game, the Blue Eagles will travel to Nation Ford on Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. game in Falcon country.
Clover closes out regular-season play April 19, hosting rival York at 7 p.m.
A scoring summary of the Blue Eagles’ Tuesday game at Rock Hill will appear in next week’s Enquirer-Herald.