CLOVER — After defeating York 10-4 last Friday in Cougar Country, the Clover High School baseball team entered Monday’s game against highly-regarded Northwestern with plenty of momentum.
The Blue Eagles extended the unbeaten Northwestern team to the limit and appeared to have nailed down an upset win over the mighty Trojans until Northwestern’s Garrett Rast belted a three-run, bases-loaded triple in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Rast’s dramatic extra-base hit propelled the home-standing Trojans to an 8-7 win over a gutty Blue Eagle team.
Clover held a 7-2 lead after six innings until the Trojans’ seventh-inning explosion.
The narrow win enabled Northwestern to remain unbeaten for the season with a perfect 13-0 slate.
The Blue Eagles built a commanding 10-1 lead and held on down the stretch in the win over rival York three days before the trip to Northwestern to face one of the Palmetto State’s premier teams.
Clover pushed across a run in the top of the first inning at York when senior mainstay Chase Goldberg’s RBI single scored teammate Davis McCarter, who singled to open the inning.
Justin Rayano, who pitched a complete game in picking up the win for the visiting Blue Eagles, got things started in the top of the second when the senior standout reached on an error. After Rayano advanced to third on a wild pitch, Chase Galant delivered an RBI single.
The Blue Eagles weren’t through, however; Back-to-back singles by McCarter and Corey Parham loaded the bases before Goldberg stepped to the plate and belted a two-run single, staking the Blue Eagles to a 4-0 lead after two innings.
Clover sophomore Landon Harkey reached on an error to open the third. After stealing second, Harkey advanced to third on Rayano’s bunt. Cody Jenkins drove Harkey home with a single. Later in the inning, McCarter’s bloop single RBI pushed the Blue Eagles ahead 6-0.
Clover scored three runs in the fourth, highlighted by junior outfielder Jesse Bowers’ two-run single.
The Blue Eagles closed out the scoring in the top of the sixth when Jenkins scored on a double error.
In assessing the win over York, head coach Darrell VanDyke said the Blue Eagles did what it takes to win games.
“When the pitcher throws strikes and you play defense and put the bat on the ball, you will win games,” said VanDyke of his philosophical approach to the game. “That’s basically what the game of baseball is all about.”
He also said, “It was a good win. I am proud of our kids.”
Rayano, a senior, talked about how it felt to go the distance on the mound.
“I felt good on the mound tonight,” he said.
“I hit the right spots with my pitches and my teammates hit the ball. That’s a combination that wins games. This was a good win against our rival.”
The Blue Eagles play at Rock Hill Tuesday in a game that begins at 6:30 p.m. in Bearcat Country.