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2016 NATIONAL LEAGUE WILD CARD

ClovisIn a rematch of last year’s National League Championship Series the Tempe Tempers hosted the Clovis Wheat Kings. In that series Tempe topped Clovis but it took the Tempers seven games to finally put away the Wheat Kings. This year both teams finished in 2nd place but qualified for the Wild Card round by virtue of the records. Both squads have high powered offenses and fans everywhere are looking forward to the Shootout in Tempe.

Game #1: Matt Harvey (15-8 2.16) vs. Johnny Cueto (16-8 2.89)
Phillips16Tempe would host the first two of the best of three series and would send Johnny Cueto to the mound to face off against the Clovis ace Matt Harvey.
In the first game Clovis got things started early with a Nelson Cruz blast to give the Wheat Kings a quick 1-0 lead. When Belt ripped a double later in the inning Tempe manager Douglas decided he had seen enough and pulled Cueto after only 2/3 of an inning.
In the bottom of the first Chris Davis got ahold of a Matt Harvey fastball and deposited it over the center field fence to tie the game at 1 apiece. It stayed that way through the second but in the third the Clovis bats came to life again.

Rajai Davis led off against Eric Goeddell who was now on the mound for the Tempers, with a double. Cruz drew a walk and then Nolan Arenado lined a single to load the bases. Manship came on in relief and struck out Belt but Phillips laced one into the right field corner that sent all three runners scurrying home and giving Clovis a 4-1 lead.
It stayed that way through six innings with Harvey in control for Clovis. In the seventh with Uehara now on for Clovis Beltre smashed a two out double and then Votto flared on into right that fell for a hit and send Beltre home with the second Tempe run. Uehara escaped further damage when Votto was thrown out trying at second trying to stretch the single into a double by Rajai Davis. The score now stood at 4-2 with Clovis clinging to the lead.
Uehara pitched into the 8th when Watson took over and finished out the inning without incident. Clovis could not come up with any offense that effected the score against a parade of Tempe bullpen arms; the Tempers would use ten pitchers total in the game.
The bottom of the ninth saw Tempe with one more chance but they would have to do it against Clovis closer Brad Ziegler. Ziegler quickly let Tempe know who was in control when he fanned Braun and Cozart in quick succession leaving the Tempers with only one more out. Up to the plate came rookie Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts hit it well into left center but Willie Bloomquist tracked it down for the final out and sealed the win.
Final Score:  Clovis 4 – Tempe 2

Liriano16Game #2: Francisco Liriano (16-7 1.79) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (13-6 2.69)
For Clovis Rajai Davis led off the game with a solid single and Nelson Cruz then lined one off of the glove of Iwakama. With the first two runners aboard Tempe skipper Douglas decieded to dip into his bullpen early with Dalier Hinojosa coming on to face Nolan Arenado. Arenado ripped it past a diving Joey Votto into the right field corner and when the dust cleared Arenado was standing on third and the Wheat Kings had plated a pair of runners. Belt then singled through past Tulowitzki and Clovis had a 3-0 lead and still no one was out. Hinojosa managed to get out of the first without further damage but the Wheat Kings now held a 3-0 lead before Tempe ever came to bat.
Arenado16Liriano was determined to keep the score that way and put down the Tempers without a hit until the fourth when Tulo led off with a double. Votto grounded out but Tulo moved over to third on the out but Liriano bore down and struck out both Cespedes and Davis to end the threat.
In the sixth with the score still Clovis 3-0 Braun singled and stole second base, and after one out Votto walked bringing the tying run to the plate in Cespedes. That would be all for Liriano who left with 6.1 innings pitched, no runs allowed, 3 hits and 7 strikeouts. Grilli got Cespedes to pop out and then Josh Osich the lefty came on to face “Crush” Davis. Davis skied one into right that Rajai Davis took in to end the threat.
In the eighth Clovis would add to the lead when Cruz walked, Belt singled him to second and with two outs Phillips stroked a solid single that scored Cruz. That made the score 4-0 with the Wheat Kings on top.
Kontos was now on the mound for Clovis and he pitched into the eighth before Uehara took over for the remainder of the frame. He retired the Tempers in his 2/3 of an inning of work to set up the ninth.
Clovis would send Brad Ziegler out to try and protect the 4-0 lead and send Clovis into the playoff round. Ziegler struck out Cespedes, got Davis to fly out to right and then faced Evan Longoria. Longoria swung hard but to no avail as the umpire rang him up to end the game.

Final Score:  Clovis 4 – Tempe 0

The Clovis Wheat Kings take the series 2-0 and move on to the Division Series & face the Columbus Explorers.

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