Gray early bright spot

Clovis High School’s Simon Salguero gets back to first base under the tag attempt of Fabens first baseman Enrique Lopez during their opening round game Thursday at Bell Park in the Clovis Invitational baseball tournament. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

Although the temperature for the season opener was a few degrees above the predicted 43 degrees on Thursday, Clovis senior Luke Gray made sure Fabens’ run total was absolute zero.

The burly right-hander scattered three hits over 4 1/2 innings for his first varsity shutout as the Wildcats rolled to a 16-0 win in the first round of the Clovis Invitational at Bell Park.

“That’s one of the best games I’ve ever seen Luke throw,” Clovis coach Shane Shallenberger said. “He did a great job and stepped up and started the season in the right way.”

Shallenberger said Gray’s success came from hitting spots with all his pitches. Fabens coach Ismael Salas was more impressed with Gray’s curveball, which he said dropped more than 2 feet.

The Cats blew open the game with seven runs in the third inning and five more in the fourth, aided by poor fielding by Fabens.

Gray’s battery mate, junior Daniel Casarez, went 2-for-3 with four RBIs. He ignited a seven-run third inning with a two-out, two-run triple. In the fourth, he slammed a two-run double off the base of the left-field fence.

Junior third baseman Jared Montoya added a two-run single in the third inning for the Wildcats.

Fabens committed eight errors, leading to 10 unearned runs.

“We capitalized on all their errors,” Shallenberger said. “We scored a lot of runs on errors. That’s good and bad. We need to start hitting the ball where they’re not.”

Junior Josh Campos was the only Fabens player to advance past first base against Gray, stroking a double in the top of the fourth.

Gray helped himself at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs.

Fabens pitchers plunked shortstop Sean Cruce three times and he scored three times.

Clovis Invitational
Bell Park

Levelland vs. Palo Duro, 9:30 a.m.
Hereford vs. Fabens, Noon
Del Valle vs. Rio Rancho, 2:30 p.m.
Clovis vs. Santa Fe, 5 p.m.

Rio Rancho 10, Palo Duro 2
Santa Fe 5, Hereford 4
Del Valle 4, Levelland 2
Clovis 16, Fabens 0

Thursday summaries
Junior Dean Sedillo struck out 10 batters in five innings as Rio Rancho topped Palo Duro10-2 in five innings.

Santa Fe scored four runs in the fourth inning for a 5-2 lead and held on to beat Hereford 5-4.
Santa Fe senior Travis Fitch pitched a complete game and senior Sam Gilber went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

Del Valle junior Antony Paez gave up only one earned run in seven innings as the Conquistadores beat Levelland 4-2.
Del Valle senior Justin Yepez had two hits and scored twice.