GROTTOES - The Clover Hill Bucks improved their record last night to a league-best 20-5. An early offensive output and an unlikely bullpen hero emerged to secure a 7-6 road win over the Grottoes Cardinals.
Tyler Conley scored the first run of the game for the Bucks on a passed ball, right before cleanup hitter Luke Shifflett sent his second home run of the season up and over the outfield fence.
The Bucks would add two more in the second, as Kevin Kirk and Alex Knicely would come around and score on an error by Cardinals’ third baseman, Eli Lam.
Grottoes made things interesting in the sixth, pulling to within one after a four run explosion against the Clover Hill bullpen.
Three straight walks given up by Alex Knicely to load the bases for the Cardinals with no one out. Enter second baseman, Kevin Kirk. Kirk took the mound the first time this season in a less than ideal situation.
Keegan Woolford’s bases loaded walk scored the first run of the inning, followed by a two-run single by Dylan Nicely. Woolford would score the final run of the inning on an Eli Lam groundout, putting the Cardinals within striking distance of a big late-season win.
Kirk made sure that wasn’t going to happen, giving up just two hits and striking out three over the final three innings.
With the win, Clover Hill keeps their two game lead over the Bridgewater Reds for first place in the Western Division. With just a few days remaining in the regular season, the Bucks appear headed for the top seed in this year’s playoffs.
Grottoes remains in the tight race for the Eastern Division title, sitting just one game behind New Market. They travel to Elkton tonight for a must-win game against the Blue Sox. As for Clover Hill, the Bucks will travel to Montezuma tonight to take on the Braves and extend their Western Division lead.