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IHS baseball .400 hitting break

Ignacio shortstop Iaasic Pena looks to finish a double play
After forcing out Bloomfield, N.M., JV runner Humberto Miramontes (17) at second, Ignacio shortstop Iaasic Pena looks to finish a double play with a throw to first on March 28.
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Despite his almost-hop over the pitch, the ball hitting Tucker Ward’s cleat looked like a case of near-injury on top of the 3A Bloomfield JV’s preceding insult — a seven-run sixth off his arm in relief of older brother and IHS starter Bo, helping the hosts suddenly snatch a win from apparent defeat.

Reaching base with one out in the top of the seventh inning, the freshman did steal second and then take third on a wild pitch dealt by BHS reliever Anthony Candelaria (W; 2 IP, H, R, BB, 3 K) to 2-hole hitter Anthony Manzanares, and ultimately score on a botched rundown — catcher Chauncey White’s throw went into leftfield — but it was too little, too late for the visiting Cats.

Manzanares struck out swinging for the second out and, after lashing a clean double to left and then reaching third on a passed ball charged to White, 3-hole Iaasic Pena was caught stealing at home plate by the masked man for Ignacio’s final pre-spring break out in an 8-4 loss on March 28.

“We started off good at the [Farmington, N.M., Piedra Vista Tri-States Invitational—JV Division] tournament, but we still need to work on stuff,” Bo Ward said. “When we played Sargent [March 26] we made a lot of mistakes, especially in the outfield, but we’ve definitely improved from that game.”

Three of IHS’ runs had given them a 3-0 lead after just half an inning on John Gutierrez Field, as Tucker Ward (1-3, 2 R), Manzanares and Pena all reached and scored via some fine fundamental play.

The first two Cats singled off Bloomfield starter Luke Duggan (ND; 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K), and Pena plated Ward with a double to left. Bo Ward then brought Manzanares home with an RBI-groundout to short, and Antonio Torres’ perfect sacrifice bunt towards first base allowed Pena to cross.

“In the first inning, we had our sticks running good,” said Pena (2-4, R, RBI). “We just made a few mistakes, got our heads down and … that’s what killed us in the last couple innings.”

Bo Ward, meanwhile, allowed the New Mexicans next to nothing — save for cleanup bat Humberto Miramontes’ sac-fly to Torres, plating Ray Sanchez (2-4, 2B, R, RBI) in the fourth for BHS’ first run.

“Yeah it was pretty good,” said Ward, who left with a no-decision after firing four frames of two-hit ball, fanning two and walking none, “and I just … thought of strikes, threw it right down the middle.”

RBI-doubles by Miramontes (2-2, 2B, R, 2 RBI), Candelaria and Sanchez keyed BHS’ big inning off Tucker Ward (L; 2 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 0 K), as Bloomfield made 11 plate appearances against the righty, who once became entangled with his brother, a junior, on an unfortunate blooper-reel meeting near the third-base line that helped prolong the enemy’s rally.

“It’s got its ups and downs,” said Bo Ward (1-3, 2B) of playing simultaneously with his sibling. “Sometimes we have our conflicts — like when we ran into each other on that foul ball — and it kind of got into our heads. But other than that it’s pretty good.”

Two up, three down through an as-scheduled March, Ignacio will next see action April 9 in its 2A/1A San Juan Basin League opener at Dove Creek. The Bulldogs entered Break 5-2 overall, including an out-of-league win March 16 over usual SJBL contenders Dolores.

“I think now that we have time on spring break we’re going to … play harder,” Pena said, “and just play who we can. Put the best players out there and get it done.”

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