ClubSox rolling through first half of City Tourney

Team is guaranteed spot in final round with chance to become host squad for CMWS

Karl Schneider
Farmington Daily Times
4-C's Brandon Gardenhire, right, is greeted by teammates after scoring a run against the Fuel on Thursday at Ricketts Park in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — The 4-C ClubSox are Mike McGaha's team, but in a way, they're kind of Andrew Caliendo's team, too.

McGaha, the longtime coach at Piedra Vista, founded 4-C four years ago to give his graduating high school players another opportunity to play baseball during the summer. His philosophy was simple — put a group of guys who are comfortable with each other on the field, add a few pieces to shore up the rotation and bullpen, and let them play for a chance to host the Connie Mack World Series.

The idea has worked so far this year, as the ClubSox have started the Connie Mack City Tourney with three wins and no losses through the first four rounds. And as the only unbeaten team left in the tourney after the fourth round, they're guaranteed to be one of the team's left for Saturday's final round.

4-C's Nate Swarts rounds third base to score a run against the Fuel on Thursday at Ricketts Park in Farmington.

"Someone asked me the other day how we're doing, and I told them, 'Honestly, we're not good because we're exceptionally talented, we're good because we love each other,'" McGaha said. "It's a different vision, it's a different kind of put together. This is us. We're happy about it. We like us. If we're overmatched, we're overmatched, but we're going to take care of each other."

The only major difference between this year's ClubSox squad and the previous three versions of the team is that McGaha looked to Caliendo, his former PV catcher, to make some of the decisions.

On Wednesday night, during the draw for the fourth-round games of the City Tournament, McGaha again left the decision making up to Caliendo. After McGaha won the coin toss for home and away for Thursday's Round 4 matchup with the Fuel, he called Caliendo, saying he always has him pick.

But Caliendo's responsibilities with the team go well beyond picking home or away for games during the tourney.

"Coach McGaha asked me who I wanted to have on our team," Caliendo said. "I really wanted to play with my friends for my last summer here, and this is my team."

The 4-C lineup is basically the same as the PV lineup that reached the semifinals of the 6A state tournament in May with the addition of a couple of players from La Cueva High in Albuquerque and Durango (Colo.) High.

4-C's Deylan Pigford motions to his teammates after hitting a lead-off double on Thursday at Ricketts Park in Farmington.

Caliendo said he thinks the chemistry the ClubSox carried over from the high school season has helped them during the City Tourney, and the La Cueva and Durango players have quickly fit in with the Farmington boys.

With the team rolling, the ClubSox have a strong chance to become the host team for the CMWS later this month, an experience Caliendo and many of his teammates would relish in their final year of eligibility at the Connie Mack level.

"I've always wanted to be in the world series, ever since I was a little kid. My dad's boss had reserved seats, and he'd always give them to us. My dad would always take me, and I always wanted to play in front of the hometown," Caliendo said. "That would mean the world to me, especially since it'd be with my best friends."

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.