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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Drained Cloverdale squad falls to Speedway in final

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

(Photo)
Cloverdale senior Ethan Atwood connects on a sharp grounder to left field during the Class 2A No. 44 Sectional final at Speedway. [Order this photo]
SPEEDWAY -- Following a grueling nine-inning game in the heat of the day, the Cloverdale baseball team had to rebound in a few short hours to play for the sectional championship against the host Speedway Sparkplugs.

The nine inning afternoon affair took its toll as the Clovers seemed physically exhausted and fell behind early and were never able to recover.

Senior Brian Dale had a monster game against Monrovia earlier in the day, belting two home runs and pitching three scoreless innings. He got the nod as starter in the championship game, but things didn't go as planned.

Speedway took advantage of an extended rest and came out with more energy and quickly took a 4-0 lead after the first inning. Dale tossed two-thirds of an inning, surrendering four hits and four runs in the process. Head coach Bryan Archer said his senior did the right things, but Speedway was ready to play.

"Brian looked really good at the end of the first game," Archer said. "He had to come in and threw three innings there toward the end. As a senior he's been a bulldog on the mount for us all year. He's done a great job. The coaches and I felt comfortable starting him.

"He had some confidence going into it and he did fine there at the beginning. That double in the gap hurt us, but he came out and was throwing strikes and was doing his job. They were ready to go and they were anticipating strikes, he was delivering, they put the bat on the ball and jumped out to an early lead," he added.

The hot start of the Sparkplugs, coupled with the Clovers still recovering from their previous game, had the team looking sluggish and struggling to finds its groove.

Cloverdale notched its first hit of the game in the second inning when Dale beat the throw from the Sparkplugs shortstop. He moved to second when Justin Wilson was thrown out on a fielder's choice. He would remain on the second as the inning ended with Cody Carter and Trevor Lockwood striking out.

The Sparkplugs added another run in the bottom of the second inning and two more runs in the fourth inning to move the score to its eventual final of 7-0.

Cloverdale continued to fight at the plate collecting two hits in the third inning. The Clovers were able to make strong contact with the ball, but unlike the first game, the hits weren't finding gaps, just Speedway players in the field.

"Some days that happens," Archer said of not getting the hits. "I don't think the score really reflects how we hit the ball. He (Pennington) was throwing well and had good speed and a decent off speed and it seemed like every time we had our opportunity to plate some runners, we lined out to a guy. We were hitting shots right at them.

"Our guys did a good job of putting the bat on the ball. Some days they fall and some days they don't. Tonight they didn't," he added.

The best shot the Clovers had at putting a run on the board came in the sixth inning. With Dale on base, Carter sent a blistering shot to the gap in left-center field, but Speedway centerfielder Michael Maloian erased the gap and made a leaping catch to end the inning.

Speedway closed the game by recording three Cloverdale strikeouts to celebrate a sectional title win. Archer spoke after the game about his team's quick turnaround and the effect the heat had on his squad.

"Any one who knows me, I'm not one to ever make an excuse and I'm still not making an excuse. You're in the championship game, you have to deliver," he said. "But I'm not going to sit here and say the nine inning game from 1-4 p.m. didn't have an effect on my boys. We had several players with heat problems."

Archer was proud with what his team accomplished this season and talked about the impact his senior group had on the squad.

"Those seniors from this year -- unbelievable," Archer said. "Yeah we lost in the sectional championship, but if it wasn't for those seniors, and I'm not taking anything away from our younger guys, but those seniors, especially in that first game, we wouldn't have had this chance.

"I have a special place for those seniors," he continued. "They're my four guys since I've been here. They've worked extremely hard all four year. Put in hours -- people can't even imagine to be where they're at.

"They fell short today, but they've achieved more than I ever thought they would. They're a great group of boys. I'm going to miss them," Archer concluded.

At Speedway

Class 2A Sectional Final

Cloverdale 000 000 0 -- 0 4 1

Speedway 410 20x -- 7 6 0

WP -- Pennington

LP -- Dale