Trailing by seven runs midway through their game, the Clear Brook Wolverines rallied all the way back for a 9-8 win at home over the Clear Creek Wildcats on Friday afternoon.
The massive comeback in a game against a tough Clear Creek side where the Wolverines could’ve easily been tempted to quit was an encouraging sign for a young Clear Brook team already distracted and thrown off their routine by spring break.
“It definitely won’t hurt us, confidence-wise,” Clear Brook head coach Gene Flores said. “It allows them to see early in the year where we can be, but we’ve got to play a full seven innings.
“We’ve got some things to clean up, and we’re going to get them cleaned up,” Flores added. “That’s our job to do so. The kids will make the adjustments. We’re definitely young, but being young doesn’t mean you can’t be good.”
A bases-loaded walk drawn by Clear Brook center fielder Anthony Benevides cut Clear Creek’s lead to 8-2 in the bottom of the fourth, and then the Wolverines exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead.
After shortstop Jacob Martinez raked a leadoff single, the Wolverines got the fifth-inning scoring started with a bang as left fielder Travis Watson sent a ball screaming over the fence in left-center field for a two-run home run. A wild pitch and an error allowed two more runs to score to get the score to 8-6.
Benevides clocked a two-run double off the wall in left-center field, and then Martinez’s second single of the inning drove in the go-ahead run.
“We completely melted down,” Clear Creek head coach Brent Kunefke said. “It felt that way (like we were in control), but it’s high school baseball and anything can happen. We didn’t make plays when we needed to make plays and didn’t make pitches when we needed to make pitches. And credit Brook for fighting back.”
Clear Creek’s aggression on the base paths staggered Clear Brook in the early stages of the game, as the Wildcats tallied two runs in the top of the first, three in the top of the second and three in the top of the fourth.
Center fielder Lane Brewster led off the game with an infield single and stole a base, and left fielder Mason Moran followed with a walk. On a double steal, a ball mis-played at third base allowed Clear Creek’s first run to score, and later, a fielding error at second base saw a second runner cross home plate.
In the top of the second, right fielder Matthew Juarez’s one-out single eventually resulted in a trip around the bases after a stolen base and two passed balls to put Clear Creek ahead, 3-0. Then, first baseman Daniel Burroway came through with a two-run double scorched down the left field line.
After Clear Brook scratched onto the scoreboard due to a misplayed relay throw in the bottom of the second, the Wildcats pushed their lead to 8-1 in the top of the fourth in a two-out rally.
Shortstop Peter Miller drew a walk and Burroway singled to extend the inning before third baseman Isaac Lopez crushed an RBI double off the top of the left field wall. An error on a grounder hit by designated hitter Mason Muller allowed a run to score, and then Muller got himself caught in a rundown long enough to allow a second run to score during the play.
“They run the bases better than I’ve ever seen, and kudos to them because they can move,” Flores said. “And that puts pressure on our pitchers. You can’t tell me that, as a pitcher, you’re not worrying about a runner, because you are.”
Recording multi-hit games for Clear Brook were Martinez (3-for-4, one RBI, one run), catcher Christian Whitehead (2-for-2, one run) and second baseman Aaron Ramirez (2-for-4, one run).
Carson Wagner pitched an inning-plus of hitless, walk-less ball with two strikeouts to pick up the win on the mound. Sebastian Pichardo recorded the save, giving up just one hit and no walks with one strikeout in the game’s final two innings.
Burroway (2-for-4, two RBIs, one run) and Muller (2-for-4) had multi-hit games for Clear Creek.
Both teams are back in action 6 p.m. Tuesday. Clear Brook (1-1 in District 24-6A) hosts Clear Falls (0-2), while Clear Creek (1-1) will be at Dickinson (1-1).