Led by senior Tucker Ward’s 3-for-4, three-run work with the bat, complemented by classmate Austin McCaw’s 3-for-4, one-run day, Bobcat Baseball took the early lead in the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League standings on Saturday, April 9, with a 9-5 home win over Nucla backing up their 11-6 defeat of Dove Creek on the 5th.
Improving to 4-0 after Spring Break, to 2-0 in league and 5-3 overall, Ignacio wasted no time in pouncing on Mustang junior Devyn Rummel (L; CG) for four runs in the bottom of the first inning, and added one in the second, one in the third, two in the fourth and one more in the sixth – more than enough for junior Zach Weinreich (W; 5 IP, 4 R) and McCaw (2 IP, R) to work with as NHS attempted to fight back.
Ranked tenth in the CHSAANow.com Class 1A poll going in (and remaining so afterward, in the 4/11 update), Nucla touched Weinreich for four in the top of the third with Rummel, at the top of the order, hit by a pitch and junior Graden Steffan and senior Caden Colson following with consecutive singles to spark the guests’ initial rally, in which all nine players came to bat.
Rummel later doubled leading off the sixth and eventually scored, but the comeback gained no additional traction as Steffan (2-3, BB), Colson (2-4) and junior Sladen Hendrickson went down in order against McCaw.
Senior Mason Riddle, sophomore Cord Colson (1-4) and freshman William Gabriel (1-3, BB) then went down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh to seal the deal as NHS dropped to 3-7 overall, 1-1 SJBL.
Sophomore Kruz Pardo scored two runs for IHS, while junior Juanito Medina, sophomore Kai Roubideaux and senior Anthony Manzanares each scored one in the victory.
Against DCHS, Manzanares scored three runs and went 4-for-4 with four singles and stole two bases. Pardo (2-3, BB) also scored three times and McCaw twice on 3-4 stickwork. Ward was 2-4 with a double and a run, and senior Chance Hine 0-3 with a walk and a run as the Cats passed their first test against senior Jordan Ernst and the reigning 1A State Champions – then No. 5 in the classification’s rankings, and down to No. 7 in the April 11 poll.
Ernst singled and scored his first time up, but was thrown out 2-3 his next at-bat, and went down on strikes his final two tries. Senior Colin Hobbs scored twice in defeat and reached base in three of his four plate appearances as Dove Creek couldn’t solve Ward (W; 5 IP, 5 R, 8 K) and Medina (2 IP, R, 3 K).
“The team is starting to become a team,” Ignacio head coach Bert Miller said. “They’re playing together, they know what the other guys can do. They’re playing as a team, instead of individuals … and we’re improving every day!”
Still an ‘Others receiving votes’ team on the bubble of the April 11 Class 2A top-10, up next for the Bobcats will be their first SJBL doubleheader – and their first action away after nine straight home dates – of the spring, on Saturday, April 16, at Dove Creek. First pitch against the Bulldogs is currently set for 2 p.m.