YAKIMA — After a tough loss, Archbishop Murphy’s Zander Clouse made sure the Wildcats finished their season with a win.
The senior hit a two-run single in the first inning and then took the mound, where he made sure those runs held up. Clouse pitched a three-hit shutout, striking out 11 as the Wildcats defeated Clarkston 2-0 in the third-place game of the 2A state baseball tournament Sunday morning at County Stadium in Yakima.
“Zander Clouse was fantastic today,” said Archbishop Murphy head coach Stan Taloff. “He had all of his pitches working. He came out and just did a fabulous job.”
The win ended a strong season for Archbishop Murphy (24-3 overall) and a wild 2A state tournament. After inclement weather delayed the Wildcat’s semifinal game on Friday, they were finally able to play Saturday evening. Archbishop Murphy, which was the defending 2A state champion, lost 3-2 to Tumwater, which sent the Wildcats to the third/fourth place game against Clarkston.
In the Tumwater game, Archbishop Murphy had the tying and go-ahead runs on third and second with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, but couldn’t capitalize on the scoring opportunity.
After the loss, Taloff rallied his team for the third-place game, telling them there was still baseball to play.
“We came over there to play baseball and that’s what we’re going to do,” Taloff said. “You can’t always guarantee anything in the first game. You have to go out and give it your best shot. Things didn’t really fall the way we wanted them to and that’s the tough part about baseball. … We weren’t there just to fold up the tent. We wanted to go out today and rebound and take care of some of the numbness that we felt after a tough loss.”
And Archbishop Murphy did just that.
In the last game of his high school career, Clouse got Archbishop Murphy off to a great start with his two-run single in the first inning that scored Trever Morrison and Conner Longoria — the courtesy runner for catcher Alex Galgano. Clouse, a senior who will be playing for Bellevue College next year, was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.
On the mound, Clouse scattered three Clarkston hits and walked four in his complete-game shutout.
“Like he’s been doing this whole playoff run, if he gets into any trouble, if there’s a team that’s threatening, he just gets tougher,” Taloff said. “He gets a strikeout or a popup and makes his pitch. That’s the sign of a quality, tough pitcher. He had quite a day.”
Senior catcher Galgano (1-for-2) added a double for the Wildcats, who Taloff said were dealing with the disappointment of not being able to defend their state title.
“The reality is when you set your sights for the top and hit a road block like that it takes a little bit of time to get over that numbness,” Taloff said. “I wasn’t overly concerned. The only thing that ever concerns me is just the game of baseball.”
While they didn’t repeat as state champions, Taloff was pleased with the way the Wildcats handled the title during the season. They knew the teams they played were going to throw everything they could at the Archbishop Murphy squad, and the Wildcats responded by giving it their all and making it to the final four of the 2A state tournament for the third time in the last four years.
“They had a target on their back, of course, being defending state champions,” Taloff said. “They had to realize that they had to go out and play baseball. They didn’t have to worry about the name on the uniform, they just had to play the game. And they were capable of doing it. There were a lot of expectations they put on themselves as a team, and they responded well. I was proud of the way they responded to the way to being defending state champions.”
At Yakima County Stadium
Clarkston 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
A. Murphy 200 000 x — 2 3 1
Sinner and Briney. Zander Clouse and Alex Galgano. WP–Clouse. LP–Sinner. 2B–Clouse (AM), Galgano (AM). Records–Clarkston not reported. Archbishop Murphy 24-3 overall.