Bobcats’ sticks stall in IHS Invitational finale

Ignacio catcher Lawrence Toledo attempts to tag out Montezuma-Cortez’s Tristan York (3) at home plate during the third inning of the 2019 HIS Baseball Invitational’s final game Saturday, March 23.
Ignacio’s Cesar Pedregon (19) tries tagging out Montezuma-Cortez’s Cordell Baer (7) at third base during the 2019 IHS Baseball Invitational’s final game Saturday, March 23.
Arriving at third base, Ignacio’s Stephan Gomez looks for either a ‘stop’ or ‘go’ sign from head coach Don Hayes during the first inning of the 2019 IHS Baseball Invitational’s final game Saturday, March 23.
Ignacio third baseman Rendon Mestas successfully tags out 4A Bloomfield, N.M., JV runner Marc Armenta during IHS’ season-opening, 6-0 loss Monday, March 18, at BHS’ John Gutierrez Field.
Ignacio’s Gabe Tucson pitches in relief during the Bobcats’ season-opening, 6-0 loss to the 4A Bloomfield, N.M., JV on Monday, March 18, at BHS’ John Gutierrez Field.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Ignacio held to one late run by Montezuma-Cortez

It wasn’t exactly Kirk Gibson coming in to bat against Dennis Eckersley.

But Saturday afternoon, March 23, Ignacio senior Mike Archuleta knew he had a job to do when head coach Don Hayes inserted him in the bottom of the sixth inning to pinch-hit for second baseman Bela Torres.

“I told Mikey, in fact, at the beginning of the game … said, ‘Today would probably be a day when I’m going to want you for one at-bat,’” Hayes recalled. “And he came through well for us.”

Facing Montezuma-Cortez reliever Ryan Medina with one out and runners at third and second bases, Archuleta played it ‘by the book,’ knocking a pitch to the right side of the Panthers’ infield. And though he’d be retired 4-3, he made the score 11-1; Holland Roukema hustled across home plate on the play – denying M-CHS a shutout in the final game of the 2019 IHS Baseball Invitational.

Having led off the home half of the inning beating out an infield single to shortstop, Roukema scoring was only appropriate; his performance on the mound had kept M-CHS in check until a rising pitch count and three Panther runs in the top of the fifth led to his removal.

“Seemed pretty good,” he said of his work on the hill, plus 1-for-2 (with a walk) hitting. “We could have done better batting-wise, but I think that’s it.”

“Holland gave us a good effort and I believe … overall we had a good, solid defensive day,” said Hayes, alluding to the fact that of the enemy’s run total, only about five were earned. That is, scored without benefit of an error.

And through four frames at IHS Field, Bobcat miscues were about the only means the Panthers (2-1, 0-0 3A Intermountain) had available to help them break the ice.

With one on and one out in the top of the third, Tristan York cracked a grounder to Torres, who threw to shortstop Ian Weinreich covering second to force Chance Cote, but beat out the return throw to first baseman Gabe Tucson. Torres then bobbled a Cordell Baer bouncer, and with both Panthers safely aboard, York then stole third base and scored when Cesar Pedregon couldn’t collect Roukema’s throw and translate it into a tag.

Baer then scored from third on a Ryan Medina single to center, but Roukema ended the threat by getting Clayton Yoder to tap back to the mound. He’d then get out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth by getting Panther leadoff man Dylan Kibel to ground into a 6-3 (Weinreich-to-Tucson) double play.

Ignacio (0-3, 0-0 2A/1A San Juan Basin) left runners stranded at first and second against Preston Davidovich (W; 5.1 IP, 2 H, R, 4 BB, 12 K) during the home half of the fourth, and the contest went into a fifth frame with Montezuma-Cortez holding a slim 2-0 lead and knowing the ’Cats nearly clawed themselves back into contention against fellow IMLers Pagosa Springs two days earlier before falling 17-12.

Montezuma-Cortez finally broke through firmly in the fifth, chasing Roukema (L; 5 IP, 5 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 5 K) off the hill with three runs. Two (Baer, Medina) touched home plate via a one-out, pinch-hit single by Carson Yoder and the third (Clayton Yoder) scored on designated hitter Ty Blackmer’s one-out groundout to short.

Beginning with a Kerwin Tom pinch-hit fly to right, dropped by IHS’ Clint Talamante-Benavidez – a replacement for starter Colten Jackson, ejected in the bottom of the fourth for voicing his opinion of a Davidovich off-speed delivery retiring him on strikes – the Panthers’ first six hitters in the top of the sixth all reached against reliever Pedregon (0.2 IP, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, K) and scored, with a bases-clearing double by Medina the big blow. He finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and four RBI, while Carson Yoder went 1-2 with two RBI. Blackmer ended up 0-2 with two walks and two runs batted in, while Baer finished 0-3 but reached on two errors, was also plunked by a Pedregon pitch, and scored three times. Lawrence Toledo went 1-for-3 atop Hayes’ order, while Pedregon and Stephan Gomez each went 0-2 with a walk.

Having trailed PSHS – this season under the guidance of former major-league pitcher Mike Remlinger (who turned 53 on Day 3 of the Invitational) – by a 17-4 margin entering the bottom of the fourth inning, IHS erupted for eight runs during their next two at-bats before the time-limited game was called complete.

Toledo went 2-2, drew two walks and scored three times against the Pirates, while Archuleta – who started in left field – went 2-3 with a run. Taking the loss on the mound, Weinreich (0.1 IP, H versus Montezuma-Cortez) went 2-for-4 offensively with a run, while third baseman Rendon Mestas, unavailable against M-CHS, ended up 2-3 with a walk, and Gomez 1-2 with a walk and two runs.

Paden Bailey, Eric Huddleston and Ryan Lewis each scored three times for Pagosa Springs, which went 3-0 (including a 13-11 win over 2A Sargent on Day 2 and a 14-5 rout of 2A Sanford on Day 3) at the tourney and improved to 3-3 overall.

“Overall I thought it was a good tournament for us,” said Hayes. “Bats are coming … and we’re getting better remembering when a sign might be coming and when you wouldn’t be expecting one, so good communication’s going on. I’m very happy with the way things are moving.”

Up next for the Bobcats will be a split ‘doubleheader’ of sorts, with Ignacio traveling north to face Paonia at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 30, then making the short drive west to neighboring Hotchkiss for a 2 p.m. follow-up.

“This week I’m giving them a couple days off. We’ll be back Tuesday,” Hayes said, detailing IHS’ Spring Break itinerary, “and we’re going to keep working that pitching machine and keep working in that batting cage. Throw a few more wrinkles in – today we had one ready for first-and-third but we didn’t use it – that I’m pretty sure most every baseball team does, but that are new things to these guys … or at least ‘new’ hearing it from me.”

“So, we’re … going to keep working the fundamentals, just like we stress every day.”

“Hopefully we start doing better,” said Roukema, “with all this practice we’re going to get.”

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