Clovis first baseman Luke Gray stops a ground ball during the second game of Friday’s doubleheader at Bell Park. Clovis defeated Hobbs 7-5. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Clovis High’s visions of spoiling Hobbs’ postseason plans came up a couple of innings short Saturday at Bell Park.
After playing near-flawless defense most of the weekend, the Wildcats fell apart late and Hobbs capitalized with a nine-run sixth inning to post a 15-8 victory.
With the win the Eagles earned first state playoff berth since 1999.
After splitting a doubleheader Friday, Hobbs needed a win or two Sandia losses against district champion Carlsbad on Saturday to earn the second postseason berth from District 4-5A.
Hobbs won Friday’s opener 11-0 before the Cats (9-17, 2-10) came back for a 7-5 victory in the nightcap.
“Last night we let one slip away,” Hobbs coach Tim Phillips said. “We stressed execution at the plate.”
Clovis senior John Props carried a 6-4 lead into the sixth inning Saturday before running out of gas. Hobbs sent 14 batters to the plate in the frame and collected six hits, including a three-run homer by second baseman Josh Hargrove.
“We had to try to get something going,” Phillips said. “All year long it seems like we’ve stepped up in the sixth and seventh innings. It definitely wasn’t an easy win for us. We had to play some of our best ball.”
The Cats’ defense, which didn’t commit an error in the series through three innings on Saturday, was guilty of six miscues over the final four frames — including three in the sixth.
Junior Cody Edwards, who pitched a five-inning, one-hit shutout in Friday’s opener, homered in the second inning Saturday and finished the series 7-for-10. All but one of his hits went for extra bases.
Down 3-0 for the third time in the series, the Cats took a 5-3 lead Saturday with four runs on four hits in the fourth, including a leadoff triple by Props and run-scoring singles by Cade Wheeler and Matt Ulibarri.
“We ran out of pitching a little bit, and also had some meltdowns on defense,” said CHS coach Shane Shallenberger, back in the dugout on Saturday after he was ejected during Friday’s opener. “We played very good defense in this series. We showed spurts of how we can play.”
Hobbs 11-5, Clovis 0-7 (Friday) — Freshman second baseman Jared Kiser knew he’d hit the ball hard and took off sprinting.
He was stunned to learn it had left the field for a two-run homer, capping the Cats’ five-run third inning in the nightcap.
“I had no idea it was gone,” Kiser said. “It kind of took me by surprise.”
With two on and two out, the Cats erased a 3-2 deficit with their 7-8-9 hitters — an RBI double to left by Devin Sweet, a two-run double to left-center by Wheeler, and Kiser’s homer to left-center.
Kiser, who also drove in a run with a second-inning single, fouled off a couple of 2-2 pitches before connecting.
“I just kept fighting them off until I got my pitch,” he said. “We just wanted to come back and win (the second game). I think we got fired up (after losing the opener) because they’re our rivals.”
Junior Sean Cruce survived a four-hit, three-run first by Hobbs, allowing only five hits the rest of the way in a 120-pitch complete game.
“It wasn’t a good way to start, but I settled down,” said Cruce, who walked three and struck out four. “We wanted to come out with more focus for the second game, and we did that.”
The opener was called early on the 10-run rule. Edwards faced the minimum number of batters, picking off the only two runners to reach base.
Hobbs 11, Clovis 0
Hobbs 302 33 —11 10 0
Clovis 000 00 — 0 1 0
Cody Edwards and Curtis Luce; Luke Gray, Cade Wheeler (5) and Daniel Casarez. W — Edwards. L — Gray. DP — Clovis 2. LOB — Hobbs 5. 2B — Hobbs: Edwards, Brian Peacock 2. 3B — Hobbs: Edwards. HR — Hobbs: Josh Hargrove. T — 1:24. Top hitters — Hobbs: Edwards 2-3, 2 RBIs; Peacock 2-3, HBP, run, RBI; Luce 2-3, 2 RBIs; Hargrove 1-3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs. Clovis: Sean Cruce 1-2.
Clovis 7, Hobbs 5
Hobbs 300 020 0 — 5 9 1
Clovis 115 000 x — 7 8 0
Kyle Cranfill, Tyler Irvin (4) and Luce; Cruce and Casarez. W — Cruce. L — Cranfill. DP — Hobbs 1. LOB — Hobbs 6, Clovis 4. 2B — Hobbs: Hargrove, Edwards 2, Peacock. Clovis: Devin Sweet, Cade Wheeler. HR — Hobbs: Edwards. Clovis: Jared Kiser. T — 1:58. Top hitters — Hobbs: Edwards 4-4, 2 runs, RBI; Peacock 2-3, BB, run, 2 RBIs. Clovis: Kiser 2-2, BB, run, 3 RBIs; Gray 2-3, run, RBI; Wheeler 1-3, run, 2 RBIs.
Hobbs 15, Clovis 8
Hobbs 012 019 2 —15 13 2
Clovis 001 412 0 — 8 11 6
Garrett Bertola, Irvin (4), Josh May (6), Edwards (7) and Luce, Kelly Campbell (5); John Props, Jonathan Sisneros (6), Jared Powers (6), Wheeler (7) and Nathan Dodge, Casares (5). W — Irvin. L — Props. LOB — Hobbs 13, Clovis 6. 2B — Hobbs: Hargrove 2. Clovis: Props. 3B — Clovis: Props. HR — Hobbs: Edwards, Hargrove. T — 2:45. Top hitters — Hobbs: Hargrove 3-5, HBP, 3 runs, 4 RBIs; Peacock 3-6, SB, 3 runs, RBI; Kyle Campbell 2-3, RBI. Clovis: Wheeler 2-3, 2 runs, RBI; Cruce 2-4, run; Props 2-4, run; Dodge 2-4. Records — Hobbs 17-9 (7-5), Clovis 9-17 (2-10).