No equal: JV baseball goes unbeaten

The Ignacio junior-varsity baseball team and coaches mug for posterity late in an undefeated 2016 season, following a 25-2 rout of 3A Pagosa Springs.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Cats close out campaign at 13-0

Already aboard a derailed train destroying everything in its path, there was nothing the conductor could do.

“Tried to stop the bleeding!” exclaimed Trent Taylor, to assistants Drake Rhodes and Clay Miller. “But they just keep on hitting! I mean, as a coach…what do you do?”

Substitute players? Check.

Halt the practice of taking extra bases on long knocks? Check.

Try changing to a bunt-based attack, and work on small-ball tactics? Check…sort of.

Freshman Joseph Atencio apparently didn’t see the sign or hear the command as he stepped in to bat after Cesar Corona led off the bottom of the fourth with a sharp single. And just as Taylor feared – if not expected, given that the May 3 game versus 3A Pagosa Springs at IHS Field was shaping up to be Ignacio’s junior-varsity season finale – the rampage resumed after the Pirates, helplessly adrift on a red/green sea of GreenFields XP Blade+ synthetic turf, went scoreless in the visitors’ half of the frame with the Bobcats already in control, 14 to 2.

Varsity/JV swing junior Juanito Medina then tripled in the pair, senior ‘DT’ Meshew then crashed a double off the left-field fence, Nick Sanchez singled him to third, and Marcus Chapman then emptied the sacks with a drive to center…and wheeled around at full speed to also score on the same play.

19-2.

Helpless look to the dugout from Taylor in the third-base coach’s box? Check.

Raucous cheering from players in said dugout? Check.

Starting pitcher Cole McCaw and reliever Lawrence Valdez really couldn’t have dreamed of having any more run support in the contest, but six more runs – the last on an inside-the-park homer by Medina – would still cross the plate before the 25-2 destruction was done. And afterwards, a helpless Taylor couldn’t outrun pursuing players poised to empty upon him the water cooler’s remaining contents.

“I’ve seen these kids grow up. I played baseball here back in the 70’s, and I thought, ‘You know? We can turn this around,’” a drenched Taylor said. “We’ve struggled the last five, six years, but I think Ignacio Baseball is back. So I’m excited.”

As it turned out, the celebration commemorating an undefeated season – which started March 19 with an unplanned 18-4 devastation of 2A/1A San Juan Basin League nemesis Dolores’ varsity at the IHS Invitational (after 3A Salida pulled out, having gone 1-1 on the event’s first day) – was slightly premature, as the squad picked up three previously-unscheduled home games before all was officially finalized.

But the Cats couldn’t be caught off-guard, and completed a 13-0 run with a 14-2, 12-2 whipping of DHS – making Ignacio 5-0 against SJBL JV opposition – on the 7th, and a 5-1 win over 3A Bayfield’s JV on the 9th. The Wolverines could have patted their collective back for surrendering only five runs, too; according to results reported to maxpreps.com, IHS averaged an imposing 12.6 per game in 2016 while allowing only 3.1 per.

“Well you know, Coach [Bert] Miller’s really helped us out getting started with this younger bunch of kids, and he’s given us all the rein to teach these kids the sport,” Taylor said, tipping his cap to the varsity skipper. “And I’m very proud of them; they’ve come with good attitudes and their work ethic’s been phenomenal. And that makes a big difference when they work as hard as they have.”

“I think it’s this field that’s really turned things around, to be honest with you,” he continued, looking out over the revitalized facility. “This field has made it easy to take fielding we need to take. Our pitching is really coming on, and can’t take a backseat to our hitting. It’s just everything we’ve done…the kids aren’t afraid to play ball anymore!”

“Good things come when good things happen like that, and that’s what I’m proud of,” Taylor stated. “Discipline for our community, respect for our kids, and a good, hard work ethic – that’s all I really wanted; I didn’t care if we won a single game! My dreams were accomplished, and the kids’ dreams were too.”

 

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