Much like his start in Clever’s final game of last season, Corbin Allie’s first outing in the Jays’ opener this season couldn’t have been much better.
But in both contests Allie was a hard-luck loser.
Allie and Clever were edged by Mt. Vernon 2-1 in the opening round of the Right Off The Bat Tournament on Monday. The Jays followed up with a 15-1 second-round rout of Spokane.
Even in defeat, Allie’s performance was a highlight for Clever. The senior right-hander was most encouraged by his curve ball.
“My curve is better than I thought it would be,” Allie said. “Last year, I struggled with my curve. It was loopy and slow and I had no command over it. I feel I had a lot better command of it in our jamboree and today. It’s nice to have that in my back pocket. I can use it for a first-pitch strike or use it in any count.”
Allie showed plenty of promise by rising to the occasion in the Class 3 District 11 championship game last season. He gave the Jays a fighting chance with five innings of one-run pitching, but they fell 1-0 to Strafford.
“Corbin is a bulldog,” coach Justin Snider said. “He wants the ball. That’s part of the reason why we went with him in the District championship game. Jake Twigg was available and Jake was the dude for us. Corbin told me, ‘I want the ball.’ How do not give the ball to a kid who says that? We went with him and rolled with it. He gave us five great innings.”
There’s reason to believe Allie has plenty of upside. He’s somewhat inexperienced as a pitcher.
“When I was younger, I wasn’t a pitcher,” Allie said. “I’ve worked hard the last three or four years to become a pitcher.”
He was proud to receive the opening day starting nod on the mound.
“It’s a good honor,” Allie said. “It’s nice to be one of the (leaders) this year.”
Outfielder Hayden Camp, coming off a junior season in which he batted .473, banged out three hits versus Mt. Vernon. But otherwise the Jays were handcuffed by winning pitcher Tristan Jones.
“We’re going to have to figure out our offense,” Snider said. “We left five runners in scoring position with less than two out. We struck out a lot with guys in scoring position.
“Our approach from game one to game two was much better,” he added.
Against Spokane, Landon Flood and Trevor Duelen led Clever’s offense with a pair of hits.
Winning pitcher Lane Mendenhall struck out a dozen and threw a one-hitter.
Clever will resume tournament action Friday at Aurora by meeting Fair Grove in a semifinal at 4:45 p.m. The other semifinal will pit Mt. Vernon against Aurora at 2:30 p.m. Finals are set for Saturday.