Clovis baseball championship gives retiring coach a storybook ending
James Patrick waited and waited.
So did his Clovis High baseball team.
After building a two-run lead through 3 1/2 innings Saturday, the Central Section Division I championship was postponed because of rain and didnt’ resume until Wednesday afternoon at Clovis.
The suspense translated into controlled aggressiveness for the Cougars.
No. 6 Clovis exploded for seven runs once the game resumed in the bottom of the fourth inning to beat No. 8 Frontier 14-3 and help Patrick secure his 10th section title in his final game entering retirement.
“Any time when you can finish the season, and you and your team can raise your hand as victors after the last pitch, it’s just an unbelievable feeling,” Patrick said.
“I was just so proud of our guys for every at-bat and pitch, they were grinding. It was a great feeling, great group of guys to have my last year coaching with.”
The Cougars, who led 4-2 when the game was halted Saturday at Beiden Field, generated seven of their nine runs scored in the fourth during Wednesday’s continuation at Lloyd Merriman Field on the Clovis campus.
Justin Tiger’s two-run triple highlighted the Cougars’ scoring barrage.
It was more than enough for Clovis starting pitcher Zach Jimenez.
The lefty threw four innings Saturday, then pitched two more innings Wednesday before Patrick turned to Josiah Penberthy to close things out in the seventh.
“Everyone worked so hard,” Jimenez said. “We were just pulling for the win and did everything we could.”
The path to Clovis’ ninth section title started with a 3-2 victory over No. 11 Stockdale. The Cougars followed with a 5-2 victory over No. 3 Clovis North.
The Cougars (20-11) then came from behind to beat host No. 2 San Luis Obispo 7-5 after trailing 5-3 in the sixth inning.
It was a storybook ending for Patrick, who finishes his coaching career 756-272-3 in two seasons at San Joaquin Memorial (1983-1984) and 32 at Clovis (1988-2019), according to section historian Bob Barnett.
Patrick didn’t get emotional, but at some point he said he will reflect on his coaching career, even this past season when the Cougars had lost three straight in the Tri-River Athletic Conference.
“Mid-year, we were .500 and not playing great,” Patrick said. “Somehow, the kids decided they were going to get better. I really appreciate the time I was able to spend with the guys this year.”
Patrick has one more game to coach: The City/County All-Star Baseball game on Friday at Chukchansi Park.
“I learned along the way,” Patrick said of his coaching career. “I probably think I knew everything about coaching when I first started. I didn’t. Just try to learn more every year and become a better coach and do a better job for my players.
“I’m not going to lie,” Patrick added. “I’m going to miss this.”