Fanning nine in a complete-game effort, Dean Scott may have ended up a hard-luck losing pitcher.
But if there was an opponent that would know all about hard luck and losses, it was Ignacio.
And the Bobcats couldn’t throw their hands high to the sky fast enough after Iaasic Pena got Pirate leftfielder Joey Campbell swinging to thwart Pagosa Springs’ last — and best, as the bases were loaded — rally bid, as well as halt Ignacio’s own seven-game skid.
“They only scored two runs,” said a proud Lupe Huerta of the enemy’s output. “Our defense was just amazing; it’s the defense that I’ve expected all year, and they finally played to their potential and made good plays. And our pitching … has been good all season. It’s the defense that’s been kind of falling apart and not helping out.”
About the only thing that didn’t go according to plan in the 3-2, non-league road win Thursday, April 25 couldn’t be helped by the Ignacio head coach or his assistants. Afterward the boss was speaking on the horn to a representative from Nucla regarding a reschedule date for the San Juan Basin League doubleheader at NHS, which was to follow the morning after the Cats departed Strohecker Field.
“They were wanting Monday [April 29],” Huerta said, “which would give us six games in four days. … I’ve got pitching, but I don’t know if I’ve got that much pitching.”
But against the Class 3A Pirates, he certainly got an idea. Pena, the fourth arm summoned into service, earned the save after preserving what had been a 2-1 lead when he entered in the bottom of the fifth. His bat then increased it by a scratch – an RBI-double to left, plating Clayton Jefferson from second – with two Cats out in the top of the sixth.
And in the home half of the frame, he managed to get Scott (0-2, 2 BB; 7 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 3 HB) to bounce a sharp, two-out fielder’s-choice grounder to third baseman Bo Ward who, despite missing his tag on oncoming Austin Harker, managed to force the runner out of the baseline to retire the side.
Paco Mounts (2 IP, H, BB, K, HB) had started the game, but received a no-decision after being pulled in favor of Adison Jones with the score still 0-0 through two – thanks to his flip to Pena, then at catcher, to nab Pirate Tyler Manzanares trying to beat out a comebacker to the hill.
Pena (2-4, R, RBI) then led off the guests’ third with a triple to left, and quickly came home on a single by two-hole Anthony Manzanares to break the ice. After Joe Herrera was hit by a pitch, Tucker Ward promptly slapped a single into right, bringing in Manzanares and pushing Herrera ahead to third.
Jones was then plunked, but Scott settled down long enough to strike out Mounts (1-3, 2B, HBP), Jefferson (1-4, R) and Javan Webb in succession, and then retire six of the next seven foes he faced.
Jones (IP, 2 H, R, 2 BB) earned the W for IHS, and Jefferson (IP, K) entered to toss an inning – getting out of a jam by inducing Keith Archuleta to tap into a 1-4-3 double play, rolling up Scott – but was then lifted in favor of Pena (3 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 3 K, HB).
“This game … really didn’t matter to us; I was working on tomorrow’s game [at Nucla], a doubleheader in league,” Huerta said. “So today I was not going to throw any of my top pitchers – just getting some work with my younger ones, the kids who don’t pitch as much. And they did well!”
PSHS’ No. 4 and 5 hitters, Caden Henderson and Kennan Goebel, combined to go 4-for-8 in the loss, but scored no runs and drove in just one (Scott, via a Henderson single to center in the third).
Ignacio improved to 3-8 overall, but still 0-5 in the SJBL with not only the postponed trip to far western Montrose County still remaining, but also a May 2 double at SunUte Field against Dolores – with an April 30 non-league home twinbill against the 3A Bayfield JV in between.
“I did, years back, coach a little bit at the high-school level. I’ve always loved baseball, and it’s so much fun to coach,” Huerta said. “And they’re so young; five [actually four] out of my nine starters are freshmen, and a couple of them are sophomores. So we can’t complain.”
The 2A-District 2 Tournament, thus the postseason, begins May 4, with IHS grouped in with NHS and Dolores from the SJBL, along with Western Slope Leaguers Paonia, Hotchkiss, Meeker and Rangely. The top two teams will advance to the 16-team regional round the weekend of May 18.