Clover loses nail-biter in O-Zone district tourney

genegraham@comporium.netJuly 9, 2013 

— The Clover Parks and Recreation Department’s all-star team extended Union to the limit before bowing 9-8 in the July 2 O-Zone District Tournament at Clover Community Park.

At the end of the game, the breaks didn’t go Clover’s way. Trailing 8-7 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Union all-stars loaded the bases, utilizing a bunt single, an error and a walk.

The umpire ruled a balk, tying the game.

Next, a well-placed bunt down the first-base line was ruled fair, scoring the winning run from third-base to end the game.

“Execution had a lot to do with the outcome,” Clover head coach Britt Bufford said after the game. “It was a well-executed bunt at the end of the game. Hats off to Union. They played well.”

While Bufford spoke highly of the visitors from Union, he lauded the Clover all-star players.

“Our kids had an outstanding tournament,” he said. “I am proud of them.

“They listen, hustle and play the game with character.”

With Clover clinging to a 2-1 lead, Union came to life in the bottom of the third inning. Highlighted by a two-run homer, the Union stars assumed a 5-2 lead.

Clover got a run back in the top of the fourth. JoJo Stokes got things started with a single. He stole second and third and scored on a groundball RBI by Jack Adkins.

The Clover stars had an eventful fifth inning, beginning with back-to-back singles by Jake Grigg and Stewart McCall.

Later, with runners at second and third after a Clover player had been thrown out at the plate, Sam Shepard delivered a sun-scoring single.

Jacob Clinton’s single scored Barrett Faulkner, knotting the score at 5-all.

The highlight of the inning was a clutch three-run triple by T. J. Davis that cleared the bases and pushed Clover ahead 8-5.

Union scored two runs in the bottom of the inning, with a homer and double slicing the lead to a single run at 8-7.

The Clover stars were held scoreless in the top of the sixth, setting the stage for Union’s come-from-behind win in the bottom of the inning.

In his final postgame remarks, Bufford issued a special thank you to the players, coaches and parents.

“We had long practices leading up to the tournament, which gave us a chance to decide on the right combinations,” said Clover coach.

Keith Clinton and Barry Faulkner served as assistant coaches for the Clover all-star team.

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