Brandon Gilliard’s high left ankle sprain is apparently healing well ahead of schedule.
The senior left-hander, injured in preseason, came back Saturday and pitched four shutout innings in what turned into an 11-8 Clovis High victory over El Paso Bowie in the seventh-place game of the Clovis Invitational.
Tuesday, he tossed a two-hitter and his teammates pushed across three runs without a hit in the sixth inning for a 3-1 win over Roswell Goddard at Bell Park. Clovis then won the second game 8-4.
The sweep gives the Wildcats (3-2) a three-game winning streak.
“Brandon sets the bar pretty high, but all our kids competed today,” first-year CHS coach Greg Hill said. “We gave a lot away this weekend (in losing two of three in the tournament).
“Coach Hatley’s (assistant Drew) favorite saying is ‘input equals output.’ You’ve got to come to the ballpark ready to play every game.”
Gilliard, who walked one and struck out eight, gave up an RBI double to Rowdy Hurst in the top of the fourth but kept the Cats in the game until the sixth when they took advantage of wildness by Rockets pitcher Hobie McClain, who also pitched a two-hitter.
“Goddard’s pitcher did a real good job,” Gilliard said, “but I figured if I could outpitch their pitcher, we’d find a way to get some runs across.
“I was just trying my best for the team. I can’t push off as much (on the ankle), but other than that it’s good.”
Jake Burrell was hit by a pitch and Parker Wood and Emery Sierra drew walks to start the sixth against McClain. Derrick Bennett and Jordan Jacobs each drove in a run with a groundout, while the other run scored on an error.
In the second game, Sierra overcame control problems to pitch into the seventh, and the Cats took advantage of three errors by Goddard (2-4) to plate five runs in the third.
Sebastian Flores and Omar Sosa each hit RBI singles in the inning, but only two of the five runs were earned against Rockets starter Casey Steen as his defense made three errors behind him.
“That’s going to happen with young kids,” said Goddard coach Steve Nunez, who has only one senior on his roster. “It hurts, but we’re still learning. We just didn’t get the job done today the way we should have.”
Sierra allowed six hits and four earned runs with six strikeouts. He worked around five walks, four hit batsmen and two wild pitches.
“They threw some good pitching at us,” said Nunez, whose team belted four home runs in beating Clovis 11-5 in Friday’s tournament consolation semifinals. “They had a little revenge on their minds.”
Senior catcher Ricky Sanchez led Clovis’ 10 hit attack in the nightcap, going 3-for-4 with an RBI double, while Jacobs and Flores each had two hits.
Hurst’s two-run double put the Rockets ahead 2-1 in the top of the third before the Cats rallied.