CLOVER — The Clover Post 38 Senior American Legion baseball team is gearing up for a best-of-five playoff series to begin next week.
The opponent and location of the opening playoff game is to be determined this week, according to Post 38 head coach Hank Wofford.
Wofford said the top four teams in Region 5, entering this week’s play, were Fort Mill, 5-3 in the region; Rock Hill, 4-3; Clover, 4-6; and Lancaster, 3-5.
“We will play a team from Region 7,” said Wofford.
The top teams from Region 7 this week were Greenwood, Greenville, Easley and Walhalla.
Despite last week’s double-header loss to Rock Hill Post 34, the Clover Senior Legion team has been competitive this season with an 8-9 overall record entering this week.
Though Post 38 lost to Rock Hill 6-3 in the first game of the double-header, the score was knotted at 3-all after six innings.
Clover scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning, when Barrett Courtwright singled home teammate Chase Goldberg.
Rock Hill tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the second on a sac fly that sent a runner across the plate.
A two-run triple in the top of the fifth pushed Post 34 ahead 3-1.
Rock Hill could have scored more runs had it not been for a defensive gem by Clover pitcher Hunter Hurst.
The Post 38 hurler speared a line drive and doubled a Rock Hill runner that had drifted off the bag, spoiling Post 34’s opportunity to expand its lead.
Riding the momentum of the big defensive play, Post 38 came roaring from behind in the bottom of the fifth.
The productive inning started with Nate Morrison’s infield hit.
Chase Galant followed with a well-placed bunt over the pitcher’s head for an infield hit, leaving runners at first and second.
An off-the-mark pickoff attempt scored Morrison from third, with another errant throw scoring Jesse Bowers with the tying run.
Rock Hill pushed across three runs in the top of the seventh to seal the win, highlighted by a two-run homer by Trent Aultry.
The second game of last week’s double-header was all Rock Hill as Post 34 built the lead early and prevailed 12-1.
Clover’s lone run crossed the plate in the bottom of the sixth.
Cole Hybarger got things started when he drew a walk and hustled to second-base when Post 34 was slow retrieving the ball.
Hybarger eventually scored on a ground ball by teammate Justin Rayano.
Goldberg, who rejoined his Clover teammates for Legion play after his first year of play with the Brunswick Community College baseball team in Bolivia, N. C., said he feels good about the progress the younger players on the Post 38 roster are making.
“The young kids are meshing together with the older players,” said Goldberg. “The Legion experience is good for the Clover High School baseball players.”
A Blue Eagle and Post 38 standout one year removed, Goldberg has been a consistent hitter throughout his baseball career.
“I always have confidence when I step to the plate,” Goldberg said in describing his success with the bat.
Wofford said the double-header loss to Post 34 wasn’t indicative of the positive development the Post 38 players have made this season.
“Hurst pitched a great game tonight,” Wofford said of the Clover hurler’s gritty mound performance in the first game. “We had our opportunities in the first game of the double-header. The second game got away from us.”
Despite the losses to Rock Hill, Wofford likes what he has seen this season.
“Playing baseball in the summer has been good for Clover High School players competing at the American Legion senior and junior levels,” said Wofford, who has accepted the position of head baseball coach at CHS. “We’ve been competitive against strong teams in our region.”
Wofford noted that the Post 38 baseball talent is all home grown. “All of our players are from Clover,” he said. “We don’t draw from other areas like some of the Legion teams.”