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J.C. Cloney finding groove at COC

Posted: April 6, 2014 9:45 p.m.
Updated: April 6, 2014 9:45 p.m.

College of the Canyons pitcher J.C. Cloney transferred into COC after spending a year at Long Beach State.

 

Through some trials and setbacks, College of the Canyons pitcher J.C. Cloney found that his experiences could be helpful to not only himself, but his teammates as well.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 225-pound left-hander was practically unhittable his senior year at West Ranch High, going 8-1 with 100 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings pitched with a 1.84 ERA as a senior in 2012.

That same season, he was named The Signal’s 2012 All-Santa Clarita Valley Baseball Player of the Year and the Foothill League MVP after leading the Wildcats to a 29-9-1 record and a league championship.

The Wildcats reached the CIF-Southern Section Division I semifinals where they lost 2-1 to Corona, capping a stellar senior season for Cloney that started with his committing to Long Beach State in August of 2011.

But things turned for Cloney early in his time with Long Beach State when in late January of 2013, he was forced to redshirt after suffering a stress fracture in his left elbow.

Due to the injury, Cloney’s scholarship wasn’t renewed for the next year and he had to leave the school.

He later enrolled at COC, where he earned a role as a starting pitcher.

“It was a great experience even though it didn’t work out,” Cloney says of Long Beach State. “I found that my time at Long Beach helps with the younger guys who are experiencing college baseball for the first time.”

“It’s like positive reenforcement for the younger guys when they get into a situation when nothing is looking good for them, I can tell them that everything is going to be alright — to get over it and move on. And to keep positive.”

So far this year, Cloney is using that mind-set to move past his own rocky start and get his pitching back on track.

After starting the season going 1-2 with a no decision in his first five starts, Cloney has won his last five, all conference games. In those last five starts he has struck out 41 and allowed eight runs.

He currently holds a 6-2 record with a 2.26 ERA, leads the team in strikeouts with 65 and is second on the team in innings pitched with 59 2/3.

“He’s been everything we expected and more — as a player and a teammate,” says COC head coach Chris Cota. “It’s always nice to have guys who have spent time playing (NCAA) Division I ball because of that experience they bring. The younger guys look up to them because they know that they were good enough to get that scholarship coming out of high school.”

Cloney said he’s going to play this season out and examine his options from there. Though he expressed the desire to get back to a four-year college team, he said he isn’t talking to any schools for the time being.

At 14-13-1, the Cougars sit in third place of the Western State Conference standings with a home-and-home series against West LA coming up starting on Tuesday.

“We’ve started a little slow, but I think those pre-conference battles set us up to succeed in conference,” Cloney says. “We know how to play with our backs up against the wall. It’s only going to get better.”

Cloney knows how powerful positive thinking can be when battling through adversity, and his team will need to adopt that mind-set as they fight for a playoff spot with the season winding down.

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