Thu Apr 12th, 2018
Special to the Drum
Mistakes cripple Ignacio in home loss
Dolores certainly put the ball into play solidly a few times Monday afternoon, April 9. You’d have to give them that.
But with Ignacio allowing six Bears to reach base via fielding errors – ultimately resulting in ten unearned runs – and with their hurlers’ strikeout count offset by an equal number (10) of free passes to first, it would be just as, if not more so accurate to say the hosts were their own worst enemy in a 15-5 loss at IHS Field.
“When we get little things going wrong, we tend to melt,” said pitching coach Clay Miller. “We need to come together as a team more, try to stop little errors from affecting the game and making a big inning out of it.”
“As soon as somebody makes some mistake, then everybody just gets their heads down,” centerfielder Joe Herrera said, not excluding or excusing himself after a mentally-taxing seventh he’ll quickly forget.
Having caught three consecutive DHS fly balls in the top of the sixth, then having led off the home half out-hustling a dropped third strike to reach base for a third time in four at-bats, and then having consumed even more energy sprinting multiple times unsuccessfully to second as part of a failed hit-and-run scheme (he would eventually just steal the bag), Herrera was unable to complete a diving catch of David Schmittel’s drive to left-center leading off the visitors’ seventh.
Four batters later, reliever Adam House issued a bases-loaded walk to Tel Hamilton – plating the first of what would end up being six runs in the stanza. Already putting together an effective complete-game effort on the mound for Dolores (3-7, 2-2 2A/1A San Juan Basin League), Cameron Chavez followed with a one-out sacrifice fly to left, scoring Kevin Purkat, and Dakota Smith then walked to reload the bases.
Cole McCaw (0.1 IP, H, R, BB) then entered for House (1.2 IP, 2 H, 6 R, ER, 3 BB), but Justin Purkat worked for an RBI-walk and Neil Farias followed with a high, but relatively routine fly to center … which Herrera couldn’t squeeze. Running with the pitch, Hamilton, Smith and Purkat, all scored to give DHS a decisive ten-run advantage in the teams’ first clash since DHS’ district-tournament win last spring ended IHS’ 2017 season.
“I’m tired!” Herrera remarked afterwards. “My legs are kind of crazy, but … I’m feeling I can play more.”
Having led off the Bobcats’ first meeting against defending Class 1A State Champion Nucla three days before with a triple, Herrera triggered a vital counterstrike against the Bears with a first-inning double. After Farias had put Dolores up 3-0 against Kai Roubideaux with a two-out, 2-RBI double, Herrera would get Ignacio on the board via a one-out single to center by Trace Lovelace.
Supporting himself in the best way possible on a day where his control wasn’t its best, Roubideaux (L; 5 IP, 4 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, HB, 10 K) then socked a Chavez pitch over the right-center fence to tie the score at 3-3. He would finish 2-for-4 with two runs and as many batted in.
“Kai’s been a gamer all year,” said Miller. “Struck out ten … We’ve just got to play defense behind him.”
Helped by a two-base Lovelace error at short off Smith’s bat, Hamilton (0-3, 2 BB, 2 R, RBI) and Chavez (1-3, BB, 3 R, RBI) scored in the top of the third to put Dolores ahead, and the Bears would put three more runs up in the fifth before Roubideaux left the hill striking out Hamilton for a third time.
He’d lead off the bottom of the fifth with a single, then score three batters later via a Marcus Chapman single up the middle. But after McCaw (2-3, R, RBI) singled, Chavez (W; 7 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) stopped the rally by getting Lawrence Toledo (2-3) to line out sharply to Farias at third.
With only Herrera reaching base against him after that, via the aforementioned dropped third strike, Chavez retired the final six ’Cats he faced – including Chapman, on strikes, to end the game.
“We were hitting,” said Herrera (2-4), alluding to the fact eight of the nine men in the batting order each lashed at least one hit. “We came out hard … just need to come back, do it all the innings and play like a team.”
Coming in the wake of a tough 9-6 loss to NHS, the loss dropped Ignacio to 4-7 overall, 1-2 in league with a showdown against Western Slope League powerhouse Paonia – the defending 2A State Champion, now winners of 32 consecutive games as of 4/10 – up next on Saturday, April 14, as well as a test against WSL force Hotchkiss.
“We need to put more work in our defense, and definitely go up to the plate aggressive – not thinking you’re going to go up there and strike out, but go up there thinking you’re going to get hits,” Herrera said. “Stick to the plan with our heads up, and just … play like Ignacio knows how to play.”
“Maybe we’ll give ’em a game,” said Miller. “Nothing to lose!”