CLOVIS — It looked like the Clovis and Portales baseball teams were headed for a four-hour marathon in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Bell Park. Then the Wildcats found some relief pitching.
Senior Brynndyn Ratledge and junior Parker Wood combined for 5 1/3 innings of three-hit work, allowing the Cats to overcome deficits of 4-0 and 10-5 for a 15-11 win and a sweep of the twin bill. Clovis took the opener 11-1, which was shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule.
Wood drove in seven runs for the day, including five in the second game. His three-run homer quickly cut into the Rams’ 4-0 first-inning lead, and the Cats (6-4) overhauled Portales for good with an eight-run fifth that included RBI singles by Wood, Jake Burrell and Michael Sena and a two-run double by Sebastian Flores.
Ratledge relieved starter Josh Burrell with two out in Portales’ six-run second and got the final out with one pitch. He followed with two scoreless innings to give the Cats a chance to come back.
“JB didn’t have his best stuff today,” Clovis coach Shane Shallenberger said of Josh Burrell. “They hit JB real well.
“I was real proud of Brynndyn Ratledge, and Parker came in and threw the best he has all year.”
Portales (0-5) simply couldn’t avoid the big inning. First-game starter Ricky Lovato had a pair of 1-2-3 frames, but his defense cost him dearly in a four-run third and a five-run fifth.
Rams coach Arturo Ontiveros was encouraged by his team’s play in the nightcap.
“It was good to see the kids hit the ball,” he said. “If we keep improving, I think we’ll be able to compete with a lot of teams.
“These are pre-district games. We just want to see improvement.”
Portales’ first three hitters stroked line-drive hits to start the nightcap. After falling behind 5-4, the Rams chased Burrell in a six-run second keyed by second baseman Clint Brakebill’s three-run double.
Ontiveros said he knew the lead wasn’t secure, especially when Ratledge was able to slam the door for a while.
“A team like Clovis has a lot of firepower,” Ontiveros said. “If you let them hang around, they’re going to cut into your lead.”
Wood added a sacrifice fly in the second and a run-scoring single in the fourth for Clovis. Sena went 3-for-3 with three RBIs, while sophomore second baseman Emery Sierra and sophomore third baseman Jake Burrell each had a pair of hits.
Austin McMullen, Ricky Lovato and Logan Erf had two hits apiece for Portales.
“We played pretty good defense today,” Shallenberger said. “We made some moves defensively that I think has helped our team. And we’ve got some guys getting healthy.”
Wood had an RBI single in the first and a run-scoring grounder in the fifth in the opener, while Sierra and senior left fielder Andrew Gilliard each drove in three runs.
Lovato allowed eight runs — three earned — on only two hits in four-plus innings in the opener. He walked five and struck out two, and the Rams committed five errors.
Junior left-hander Brandon Gilliard went the distance for Clovis, allowing two hits with four walks and six strikeouts. Portales’ lone run in the second was unearned.