All-SJBL Baseball team revealed

Ignacio's Iaasic Pena catches a strikeout pitch during non-league road action against the 4A Durango JV. Now graduated from IHS, Pena was named First Team All-San Juan Basin League Catcher for the 2015 season.
Ignacio's Tucker Ward vacuums up a grounder during early-season non-league action down in Farmington, N.M. Now a senior at IHS, Ward was named one of the SJBL's Players-of-the-Year for 2015, as well as First Team All-League for work like this in the infield.
Ignacio's Juanito Medina kicks up a shower of dirt while beating a pick-off throw back to first base during San Juan Basin League play at Dolores. Used as an infielder, outfielder and pitcher during 2015, Medina was named Second Team All-SJBL Utility Player.
Ignacio's Austin McCaw cranks up the intensity while pitching at Dolores during San Juan Basin League road action this spring. McCaw was named Second Team All-SJBL Pitcher for 2015.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

After a season in which a .500 winning percentage was actually good enough to capture the Class 1A State Championship, it was understandable that selecting an All-League squad might have taken awhile.

Just before Fourth of July, however, Dolores athletic director Jimmie Lankford at last responded to this writer’s requests and reported in just such an honored roster for the completed 2015 campaign, with now-senior Tucker Ward leading Ignacio’s All-San Juan Basin Leaguers able to return next spring.

Ward was named First Team All-SJBL Infield for his consistency on the Bobcats’ left side at shortstop, and his efforts on the mound helped earn him a share of the circuit’s Player-of-the-Year distinction.

“Tucker brings his ‘A’ game every time,” head coach Bert Miller said, after Ward’s contributions towards beating Meeker at the 2A-District 2 Tournament in Delta. “He’s responded well … just a team leader by example.”

Nucla’s Clint Watt was slowed by a serious arm injury and wasn’t used on the mound as much as Mustang skippers Clint Wytulka and Kelly Arnold would have liked, but was still enough of an all-around factor to join Ward, DHS’ Kellen Gatzke and Dove Creek’s Jordan Ernst as the loop’s most ‘fantastic four.’

Ernst was also named as Class 1A’s POY and a All-1A First Team choice after helping the Bulldogs cop the classification’s crown with a State Tournament run made up of a 2-1 defeat of Holly, an 8-5 win over Northglenn Community Christian and an 8-5 triumph over Granada in the finale at All-City Field in Denver.

DC’s Curtis Garver was named not only the SJBL’s Coach-of-the-Year, but also the 1A COY for his managing of a crew which finished just 12-12 overall after going a third-place 4-5 in the dual-classification league.

(None of the San Juan Basin’s 2A players – meaning those of IHS and Dolores – were named All-2A or Honorable Mention All-2A, unfortunately, whereas DC catcher Alex Ogas and INF/P Kyle Schultz were also First Team All-1A, with first baseman/designated hitter Spencer Gatlin and outfielder Derek Kibel Second Team picks.)

Joining Ward as an All-SJBL First Team nominee from IHS was now-graduated senior catcher Iaasic Pena. Now-senior Austin McCaw was awarded Second Team All-SJBL Pitcher, and versatile Juanito Medina Second Team All-SJBL Utility Player after helping the ’Cats post a deceptive 6-13 overall (3-6 in league) mark.

Regardless of First or Second Team status [Ernst earned First Team Pitcher, whereas Ogas received Second Team Catcher], the rest of the All-SJBL Team included:

Pitchers – Tim Armintrout (Nucla), Stetson Hamilton (Dolores); catchers – Dalton Madden (DHS), Mason Riddle (NHS); infielders – Gatlin/Schultz/Colin Hobbs/Beau Hemphill (DCHS), Gatzke/Tel Hamilton/Josh McCoy/Kitty Wallace (DHS); Watt/Caden Colson/Lane Sutherland (NHS).

Outfielders – Kibel/Case Baughman (DCHS), Guy Wallace/Brandon Ward (DHS), Trenton Armintrout/Devyn Rummel (NHS); utility – Schultz (DCHS), McCoy (DHS), Graden Steffan (NHS); designated hitter – Gatlin (DCHS), Wyatt Jones (DHS).


Arnold was also named a SJBL Coach-of-the-Year after helping guide the Mustangs to not only the league’s regular-season championship with a 6-3 mark (Dolores took second at 5-4) but, like Garver and Dove Creek, to the Class 1A State Tournament.

NHS started with a 13-8 win over Joes Liberty/Stratton, but then fell 13-6 in the ‘Final Four’ to Granada.


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