Sat Apr 28th, 2018
Special to the Drum
Having done just about everything else asked of him during Ignacio’s April 21 game at Dolores, with the bat as well as on the mound, there was no doubt in Kruz Pardo’s mind he’d successfully swiped third base – setting himself up to be a seventh-inning, go-ahead run which could also have ended a five-game losing streak.
But rather than adhering to baseball’s familiar when-in-doubt-slide adage, his upright arrival – occurring as Bear third baseman Neil Farias simultaneously received and applied catcher Tel Hamilton’s throw – generated doubt in the umpires’ minds.
And after DHS’ players and coaches alertly began disputing the initial ‘safe’ ruling (probably a tie-goes-to-the-runner case) with only Pardo and IHS skipper/third-base coach Bert Miller nearby to defend it, the call was overturned and Pardo – now Out #3 rather than potential hero – sat atop the base in shocked, silent protest … hoping in vain for a re-reversal of fortune.
“Guess they had to send it in to New York,” he joked afterwards, alluding to the National Football League’s instant-replay methodology, employing an all-seeing official based in the Big Apple. “But … no one’s going to take it to heart; we know if we see these guys again … we’re going to go out there, put up as many runs as they are, and it’s going to be a close game. That’s just the way these teams are,” Pardo said.
“Ignacio … they’re tough, they still are tough and usually beat us, so it feels good to finally beat them,” said Dolores’ Cameron Chavez, who promptly flared a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh beyond IHS second baseman Ian Weinreich’s reach, plating Kevin Purkat for an iffy 10-9 win and 2-0 lead in the sides’ three-game season set.
“I … wanted that walk-off pretty bad,” he continued, having also earned the win on the hill in long relief of Dakota Smith (ND; 4 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 4 BB, 4 K). “It was a little outside, I was focusing, and was able to hit the gap. Oh, that was good!”
Coming in off an 11-7 loss at Nucla the day before, in which Mustang J.D. Brantingham belted two homers and teammate Cord Colson one (the duo were also credited with 11 RBI), the ’Cats found themselves in an early predicament similar to when they hosted the Bears on April 9.
But after Farias plated Tel Hamilton, Smith and Justin Purkat with a two-out double to deep left-center for a promising 4-0 advantage in the bottom of the first (his first-inning, two-RBI two-bagger had set the pace in the crews’ previous meeting), Ignacio answered authoritatively in the top of the second.
Unavailable for the 4/9 test, Pardo capped the visitors’ five-run counterstrike with a bases-clearing double to right off Smith, his initial counterpart on the pitching rubber, but DHS re-evened matters in the bottom half with Smith (4-4, 2 R, 2 RBI) singling with two out and scoring Hamilton (1-3, BB, 2 R).
Dolores then touched Pardo (ND; 5.1 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 2 BB, HB, 5 K) for a run in the home half of the third, but IHS (4-11, 1-4 2A/1A San Juan Basin League) responded with two runs in the top of the fourth, via a Pardo groundout scoring Marcus Chapman, and a Kai Roubideaux ground-rule double scoring Joe Herrera. The ’Cats then appeared to be in control as they put across two more – via a two-out Pardo triple off Chavez (3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, BB, 4 K) – runs in the fifth.
“After going three-for-three, or four-for-four with all infield hits yesterday, I had to get it out of the infield,” Pardo said. “Had to change up my stance, and I got a lot of hacks in this morning … made sure that I was going to be able to hit the ball hard.”
Hamstrung by CHSAA’s pitch-count rules, however, Miller had to take Pardo (ND; 5.1 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 2 BB, HB, 5 K) off the bump with one away in the bottom of the sixth, giving Dolores access to a shaky bullpen. Left-hander Adam House managed to freeze Brennan Hite with a called third strike, but Smith then singled to bring Austin Hackney (running for Chavez, who’d singled) home from second.
Justin Purkat (1-3, BB, 2 R, RBI) then tripled to deep center, and Beck Anderson (2-4, 2 2B, R, RBI) followed with a double to right, scoring Purkat and re-tying the score at 9-all before House froze Farias to prevent any more damage.
“Kruz went pretty deep; he was throwing good strikes, had a pretty good curve,” said Farias (1-4, 3 RBI), “and once we got into their bullpen … We started picking up on the other pitchers, realizing ‘Hey, we can do this!’”
Roubideaux finished 2-for-4 with two doubles, and also reached on two Bear errors while scoring one run and plating one, but was stranded twice on third base and once on second as Ignacio left seven runners total in scoring position.
Herrera went 1-3 with a double, Rendon Mestas 1-3 (he also reached base via a walk and a fielder’s choice) with a run, and Weinreich 1-2 with a sacrifice-bunt, walk, and two runs scored. Unluckily taking the loss in relief of House (0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 K) was Chapman (0.1 IP, H, R, BB), as Chavez finished 3-for-5 with a run and the game’s deciding RBI.
“It don’t feel good losing two games to Dolores,” Pardo said, having finished 2-for-4 offensively with one run and an outstanding six batted in from the top slot in Miller’s order. “We get to see them again, so we’re going to be ready to go.”
The ’Cats will return Saturday, April 28, to the diamond in Joe Rowell Park for an 11 a.m. start.