Clarence has been ctaching some of WNY\'s top pitchign during 2013 as the Red Devils are unbeaten and ranked as the top team in the state. (Photo by Jeff Barnes)
To enter the home stretch of the season undefeated, you need some standout players. And the Clarence baseball team has a whole roster full of them.
The Red Devils have gotten solid contributions all around, at the plate, in the field and on the pitcher’s mound — and that’s made them pretty much impossible to beat.
“We kept 22 players this year because we had 22 guys I thought could play,” Clarence coach Dave Smith said. “So, we have guys that can play and it shows. We have great depth.”
Clarence entered the year with high hopes and it sure hasn’t disappointed. The Red Devils started the year 14-0 and were ranked fourth in the state in the first poll of the season.
“It’s very, very difficult to do what we’ve done,” Smith said after the Red Devils clinched another ECIC-I championship with a lopsided win over West Seneca West. “To go 14 games and not lose a game, that’s tough to do.”
And the Red Devils have done it not only with a big offense, but also outlasting opponents in close games.
“Our pitching and defense have been great,” senior catcher Alex McGlue said. “We’ve been in these games 2-1, 3-2 and it’s a lot of great pitching and defense.”
“We have to keep hitting, though,” he added. “If you’re going to win in the playoffs, you have to hit.”
A pitching staff, led by probably the best one-two punch in Western New York in Mark Armstrong and Mark Materise, has kept the Red Devils in every game.
The lineup has been led by pretty much by anyone that steps into the batter’s box wearing a Clarence jersey.
The Red Devils have won in all sorts of ways, including extra-inning victories over Williamsville North and Lancaster and a number of other hard-fought narrow victories.
The one that keeps coming up, though, is a 4-3 win over Orchard Park on April 22. Down 3-0, the Red Devils rallied against a tough Quakers team and took the lead for good in the sixth on a two-run home run by Armstrong.
“We have some big hits,” McGlue said. “Like when ‘Army’ hit that big homer against OP, that was huge. We need more hits like that.”
And those games will make the Red Devils even tougher in the postseason. Clarence baseball is always ready for the postseason and this year’s team seems primed for a long run.
“We’ve been winning 3-1, 4-3, which really helps when you get to the games that really matter,” Smith said. “You’re not winning any games that are important by 16 runs.”