CLOVER — 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.