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Hold Onto Your Hat!

Clifton, Heritage deliver complete-game gem against Rebels

Mountaineer ace Trevor Clifton delivers to the plate during Wednesday’s win over Maryville. Photos by Brandon Shinn

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Heritage first baseman Ethan Deakins guards the bag.

Maybe a chinstrap would help.

Trevor Clifton impressed for a phalanx of radar-equipped major league scouts Wednesday night, the Heritage right-hander firing 15 strikeouts by Maryville in a 6-0 shutout at Maryville College’s Scotland Yard.

Clifton, a Kentucky signee and likely first-round selection in June’s Major League Baseball draft, reached speeds of 93 mph from the third inning on, the force of his delivery repeatedly dislodging his cap as his head snapped forward.

The Mountaineer ace scattered four hits in the complete-game gem.

As eye-popping as the power numbers were, the Mountaineer senior perhaps did more to boost his stock with the way he changed speeds and moved the ball around the plate.

“I had speed last year,” Clifton said. “This year, I’ve focused more on command and spotting my pitches.”

The Heritage offense did its part, and then some, handing Clifton a three-run, second-inning lead to work with. Ethan Deakins added a two-run blast to right field in the third to pad the Mountaineer lead to five.

Professional and college scouts track Clifton's every pitch.

Over the final four innings, Clifton fanned 10 Rebels, a Greg Jones sixth-inning single and a hit batsman the only Maryville base runners to board.

“We’ve been struggling hitting the ball,” Heritage coach Robbie Bennett said. “We came out tonight and we swung the bat well when we needed to. You give a guy like Trevor a lead and he’s going to be hard to hit.”

Heritage (3-7, 2-2 District 4AAA) got to the Maryville starter early. Devon Gardner’s two-out, two-RBI double collected Caleb McDonald and Garrett Neubert, who’d singled their way aboard. Cameron Brantner singled Gardner home a batter later.

“My favorite pitch is middle in,” Gardner said, “and it was right down the middle. I just hit it.”

Freshman prospect Hunter Gilliland singled into left field to open the Mountaineer third. Two batters later, Deakins powered a drive beyond the fencing in right field, the lefty’s big clout producing a 5-0 Heritage advantage.

Brantner plated a run for insurance in the Mountaineer seventh.

Maryville's Patrick Poteet ges into his windup.

“It was a fastball in the zone,” Deakins said. “It’s the only one I saw, so I just took that one.”

Maryville (8-4, 5-2) put the brakes on the Heritage offense with a fourth-inning pitching change. Only Brantner would board for the Mountaineers the rest of the way. Clifton was in too much of groove by that point, Rebel coach Jim Gaylor said, for Maryville to make up any ground.

“That’s a big win for Heritage,” Gaylor said. “They’ve been struggling. If he (Clifton) is pitching well, they’re going to be tough to beat. Give him credit. He pitched a heckuva game.”













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