Eagles hope to make a run in the tournament

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

When a local sports fan thinks of Clay athletics, wrestling, baseball and softball might come to mind.
Right now, the baseball team could be on the verge of greatness.
The Eagles, who are 17-1 and have already won the Northern Lakes League’s Cardinal Division with a 13-0 record in the conference, feature a potent rotation, led by C.J. Boudreaux and Vinny Gallaher.
“Obviously, two (collegiate) Division I arms is a luxury most teams don’t have. I’m very fortunate to have two guys at the top that are very talented. I feel like we have always have an opportunity to win when they’re pitching,” said Clay coach Jim Phillips. “I have complete confidence in them. Every game they’re pitching, we feel good. It’s a great asset to have.”
Boudreaux has committed to continue his career at Bowling Green State University while Gallaher will pitch at Eastern Michigan University.
Both pitchers are 5-0; Gallaher has an ERA of 0.22 while Boudreaux has an ERA of 0.51. Gallaher has pitched 31.1 innings and struck out 45 while walking just six batters. Boudreaux has struck out 48 batters and walked 11.
The batting order usually features the following players: Al Sutton is the third baseman, Noah Schacht is the catcher, Gallaher plays shortstop when he’s not pitching, Boudreaux plays left field when he’s not pitching, Brock Fussell sees some time at short, Drake Sekinger is the center fielder, Aiden Schroeder is the second baseman, Ian Dewitt is the right fielder, Hudson Byers is the designated hitter and Luke Jeremy is the first baseman.
Landon Eversman (2-0, 3.79 ERA, 24 IP) is the No. 3 pitcher and Sutton, Jeremy and Grady Spears are the relievers.
Clay, which is ranked eighth in Div. I AP Poll, has had some marquee victories this season, defeating Anthony Wayne, 6-5, in eight innings, Findlay, 7-5, at Fifth Third Field, and Northview, 14-5.
There were two wins over St. Francis, one coming by the score of 7-3, and the other a 5-4 victory that ended with Sekinger hitting a walk-off, RBI double. The Eagles also beat Napoleon, 4-3, and 3-0 in nine innings, the latter victory coming when Gallaher threw a no-hitter and the team scored three runs in the top of the ninth.
In the win over the Generals, Eversman gave up five runs on two hits and struck out six while Boudreaux went 1-for-3 with a home run and Gallaher went 1-for-3 with two runs.
On Wednesday, Clay, the top seed in the Bowling Green District, will host either (13) Bowsher or (14) Norwalk in a sectional final.
The Eagles, who have eight seniors, have had some bad luck in recent years, losing in the district tournament to the likes of St. John’s, Northview and Findlay. Last year, Clay lost to the Titans in a district final and in the previous two seasons, fell, 2-1, in eight innings to the Wildcats in a district semifinal and 4-3 to the Trojans in a district semifinal. (Northview went on to win the state championship in 2022.)
“Obviously, tournament runs are a different animal compared to other sports. “Northview (won a) state title two years ago and Anthony Wayne made it to the Final Four last year,” said Phillips. “Our district is one of the best in the state. If you have a bad game, you don’t get a redo. You’ve got to be playing your best at tournament time. You can’t take anyone lightly, and you have to make the most of those situations; be ready to go every day because there’s no tomorrow (if you lose).”
Phillips, who went on to have a successful career at Youngstown State University following his days as an Eagle, is doing very well at his alma mater, and is now in his 10th season leading the program. He has a career record of 166-95 (.636).
“I’ve been blessed. I’m where I want to be. It means a lot to me, not only because of the experience I had when I was a player, but also because of the so many great players and coaches that came before me,” Phillips said. “I feel a responsibility to carry on that tradition. That’s what I’m going to try and continue to do as long as I can. I feel strongly and care deeply about this program.”


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