Clovis News: Sports

Clovis North takes CMAC baseball title

In Clovis North High baseball, there are no seniors. But the Broncos do have a checklist.

And their first check was administered with authority Tuesday, when Clovis North clinched outright the County/Metro Athletic Conference title with an 8-3, home-field conquest of Bullard.

"This is our first goal," said coach Chris Patrick, whose team is 23-3 and fourth-ranked in the Central Section a year after going 22-10 on the varsity level with sophomores.

"It's been a good run, but we don't want to be satisfied. There's a lot of baseball to be played and, hopefully, it's a lot of good baseball."

Wilson Ashford, a junior left-hander, gave up two hits in 51/3 innings while improving to 8-0. He also delivered two RBI singles with two outs for the Broncos, who are 12-0 in the CMAC for a four-game lead with three to go.

In the process, the Broncos have dusted Bullard, which went 50-1 while capturing the league's past four titles, and a program that has produced 25 league titles, six section crowns and two mythical national championships in the past 33 years.

But Knights coach Chad Thornhill saw this coming, and to heck with Clovis North's youth: "Absolutely. Chris has had these kids together for three years. They're talented and they've matured together. They play with confidence, they're cocky and they've earned it."

While the Broncos have only an unbeaten CMAC record to be concerned with before roaring into the section Division III playoffs as prohibitive favorites in two weeks, their day of celebration Tuesday was interrupted in the top of the sixth inning, when Ashford injured his left shoulder.

He had made repeated pickoff throws to first -- most with quick, off-balance, sidearm releases -- when he suddenly stepped off the mound while grasping the shoulder with his right hand.

He then was allowed to throw two practice pitches before removing himself as a pitcher.

"It's a little sore, but I'll be fine and will be back at practice [today]," said Ashford, who remained in the game at first base. "I didn't want to push it. We had a big enough lead, I trusted Michael Tittle to close it out, and I just wanted to save my arm. The playoffs are coming up, and I wanted to be ready for that."

A month after winning 11-8 at Bullard in the CMAC's first round, Clovis North was clearly ready Tuesday.

Opposing Knights senior ace Matt Meyer, the Broncos bolted to a 4-0 first-inning lead on Chris Mariscal's single, Tittle's drag-bunt single, Kyle Martinez's walk, Brandon Renwick's two-run single, an error and Tyler Sturgill's RBI single.

They remained in control behind Ashford, who, outside of giving up a two-run homer by Meyer that sailed through a stiff cross wind in the fourth inning, was outstanding, striking out five and walking one.

Tittle, inheriting runners on first and third and an 0-2 count from Ashford, recorded a strikeout with his first pitch. He gave up one hit and struck out two in 12/3 innings.