Clovis’ Matt Ulibarri gets a jump out of the batters box during the Wildcats game against Rio Rancho Saturday in the Clovis Invitational Baseball Tournament at Bell Park. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer
Rio Rancho junior pitcher Mike McDermott threw an ice-cold bucket of water on the hot bats Clovis was swinging.
After scoring a combined 31 runs in the first two games of the Clovis Invitational, the Wildcats managed only one hit in a 6-2 loss in Saturday’s championship game.
McDermott pitched six innings, allowing only a hit and two unearned runs.
“McDermott did a really fantastic job,” Clovis coach Shane Shallenberger said. “He’s a tough pitcher to beat.”
McDermott dished combinations of fastballs and change-ups kept Clovis (2-1) off balance at the plate, but Shallenberger said McDermott’s biggest weapon was location.
“He mixed pitches well, but he also spotted inside-outside,” Shallenberger said. “He his spots, hit his locations.”
Clovis had its chances, leaving nine runners on base as McDemott issued five walks and hit three batters.
“We could never get the big hit,” Shallenberger said.
Clovis’ only hit was a two-out single up the middle by junior Matt Ulibarri, which scored senior Simon Salguero in the sixth.
However, that only cut the deficit to 5-2.
Rio Rancho senior Jeff Wallis opened the scoring with two-run home run to right against Jared Montoya (0-1) in the second. McDermott widened the lead in the fifth off junior Sean Cruce with a two-out, bases loaded double that looped over the third baseman.
Catcher Daniel Casarez scored Clovis’ other run on a passed ball.
Despite the loss, Shallenberger was pleased with how the team looks three games into the season.
“We just got to figure out how to hit the ball and score some more runs,” he said. “Six runs is not unrealistic against a quality team like that. We’ve got to score more than two runs to win a ballgame.”