Buchanan High – a real, real good baseball team – was real, real fortunate this time.
"You can't win them all on just pure talent," catcher Jeff Brown said after tripling with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and eventually scoring on a bases-loaded walk as the Bears moved to the threshold of the Tri-River Athletic Conference title Friday night with a 5-4 win over Clovis.
"You've got to get lucky," Brown continued. "You have to have something go your way every once in a while."
It did – repeatedly – on a night Buchanan arrived with a 22-2 record and rankings of No. 1 in the Central Section, No. 2 in the state and No. 8 nationally.
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- The Bears scored twice in the first inning – the key blow a ground-rule RBI double by Brown on a moderately struck ball that was pushed to the warning track by a stiff wind. They scored another run in the fifth on a two-out dropped flyball in shallow right.
- They saw Clovis' best player, three-year starting center fielder Taylor Temple, leave the game with a pulled hamstring in the third inning. That removed a .350 hitter and a reliever with a 3-1 record and 2.60 ERA. His status for the final two weeks of the regular season is in question.
- Then, in the seventh, Brown blasted a 3-1 Josh Heath fastball off the right-center field wall and scored when Matt Krick walked on a 3-2 pitch after Cougars coach James Patrick ordered intentional walks to Jason Gonzalez (hitting .384) and Christian Parra (.423).
"I didn't want Gonzalez or Parra to beat us," said Patrick, whose section second-ranked 19-7 team went 0-3 against the Bears in the TRAC. "You've got a choice: pitch to them or tell [Heath] to gut it out. And that was our decision."
Seth Moranda won his 29th career game with a four-hitter for Buchanan (10-1), which leads Clovis West (7-4) by three games and Clovis (6-5) and Central (6-5) by four with four remaining.
"That [lead] doesn't even register," said Bears coach Tom Donald, honoring a league that also has No. 18 Central and No. 19 Clovis West ranked in the state.
Buchanan escaped on a night that Clovis No. 9-hitting Alex Aguiniga belted a three-run double and Cougars left-hander Jimmy Jurado struck out nine in 5-2/3 innings.