Thu May 20th, 2021
Special to the Drum
Tags: 11th Inning, Batted In, BOBCATS BASEBALL, Cedaredge, Clint Talamante-Benavidez, Don Hayes, Doubleheader, Dove Creek, Eppie Quintana, Gabe Tucson, IHS Beats Meeker, IHS Field, Lawrence Toledo, Liam Deming, Ryan Sullican, Rylan Maez, Struck Out, Triple
13-12 win follows regulation-length 11-5 ‘W’
As a pitcher, Ignacio junior Gabe Tucson didn’t factor in the decision; but as a batter facing Meeker in the second game of a marathon May 8 doubleheader at IHS Field, he certainly did … and right when it mattered most.
Slashing to the opposite field a two-out, full-count Ryan Sullivan pitch in the bottom of the 11th inning, Tucson and the rest of the Bobcats were beyond elated to see the ball take a high hop in front of two charging Cowboy outfielders, buying baserunner Clint Talamante-Benavidez, who’d drawn a walk, all the extra time he’d need to sprint towards home plate and cross it with a headfirst slide – unaware he’d beaten the incoming throw by quite some distance – to secure a 13-12 win.
“I mean, it took a lot longer than I expected; I thought we were going to close it out in the seventh inning, but it didn’t quite happen,” said senior Dylan Labarthe, touched for four seventh-inning runs in closing out an otherwise-effective relief stretch after taking the ball from Tucson (ND; 3.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 6 BB, 5 K).
“And we just go four innings longer – that’s okay! It happens sometimes.”
“It was crazy, it was exhausting,” senior catcher Lawrence Toledo said. “Caught 18 innings … I went through (a total of) five different pitchers, and everybody was exhausted, wanted to go home. But nobody wanted to lose! So it was cool.”
After losing a 7-4 lead constructed during the first three innings of what ended up an epic lasting well over three hours, IHS found themselves needing a run to force extra innings, two to win in regulation as the 8-9-1 spots in Don Hayes’ lineup were due to lead off the home half of the seventh.
Labarthe (ND; 3.2 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 6 BB, 2 K, HB) struck out, but first baseman Adam House reached on an error at shortstop. Pinch-runner Rylan Maez was then sacrifice-bunted ahead to second base by Jace Carmenoros, and a wild Liam Deming delivery to Eppie Quintana gave Maez third. Quintana then bounced a ball down the third-base line, but another error resulted – permitting Maez to score before Talamante-Benavidez struck out.
Neither side managed much in the eighth and ninth innings, though Deming (ND; 4.2 IP, H, 4 R, 4 BB, 10 K, HB as MHS’ third utilized pitcher) did reach third base in the guests’ ninth. He was, however, abruptly retired at the dish for the third out when attempting to sneak a run while Toledo casually tossed the ball back to reliever Phillip Quintana, after Quintana had walked Braydon Garcia.
“I told myself not to get frustrated, not to get fazed in any way,” said Deming, who’d end up 2-for-6 offensively in Game 2, including a walk, ground-rule double and four RBI. “Just cleared my head and went to work. It was tiring but we just kept pushing on through.”
Meeker finally broke through in the tenth, with catcher Peter Hanks drawing a leadoff walk. Lifted for courtesy runner Spud White, the decision paid off after a Josh Murphy sac-bunt and an Ethan Quinn sac-fly brought White around. Hampton Hightower, who’d reached on a dropped fly ball after Hanks’ plate appearance, then scored on a Sullivan single before 1-hole hitter Zach Simonsen (1-7, 2B, R, 2 RBI) struck out a fourth time.
IHS countered in the home half, with Eppie Quintana – who’d ultimately earn the win on the hill as the fourth Bobcat placed atop it – walking and Talamante-Benavidez plunked by a Deming offering. Garcia was then summoned to pitch, but threw away a pick-off attempt at first, allowing the runners to each advance a base. Tucson struck out, but Phillip Quintana (ND; 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K) then walked after a wild pitch during his at-bat allowed Eppie Quintana to score.
Garcia (ND; 0.1 IP) was then pulled in favor of Sullivan, who intentionally walked Toledo to put in order a possible double play. The move nearly backfired when Jacob Gallegos drew a bases-loading walk, but Sullivan (L; 1.1 IP, H, R, 3 BB, 3 K) managed to freeze Labarthe for the second out and then got House to ground out to first baseman Hightower.
Eppie Quintana (W; IP, BB) then toed the rubber to face MHS in the top of the 11th, and stranded two Cowboys when Hightower popped out to Gallegos at short. However, Sullivan answered confidently in the bottom half, getting Carmenoros and Eppie Quintana (0-4, 3 BB, 3 R) to each strike out before Talamante-Benavidez (1-3, 2 HBP, 2 BB, 4 R) drew the aforementioned, most crucial free pass with Tucson (3-7, 2 RBI) waiting in the on-deck circle.
“It was nice that … we got a variety of pitchers in early, and I told them, ‘Just keep battling,’” said Hayes. “Next thing you know, we’ve got the top of the order up in a tied game – in the spot we wanted to be.”
All told, Meeker utilized five pitchers in defeat, with starter Ryan Phelan (1-5, 2 BB, 3 R, 2 RBI) receiving a no-decision after lasting just 1-2/3 innings, giving up four hits, five runs and walking three batters but striking out none.
The visitors sent just Garcia and Murphy to the mound in Game 1, with the former taking the loss after lasting 4-2/3 innings and surrendering three hits and five runs, while walking six Bobcats and fanning seven. House (5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 3 K) earned the Game 1 win, and was followed atop the bump by Tucson (IP, H, BB, 2 K) and Phillip Quintana (IP, H, 2 R, BB, 2 K).
Capping off IHS’ go-ahead, four-run fifth inning was a two-out, two-run inside-the-park Toledo homer down the right-field line with Phillip Quintana – who’d socked a ground-rule double back in the second – aboard via a walk. “It was kind of funny,” quipped Toledo (1-3, BB, 2 R, 2 RBI). “I was talking to the umpire before, and said I’d never actually hit a home run. Then my next at-bat … . It was definitely a change of momentum.”
Garcia was then re-positioned, and though Murphy managed to retire the side – by getting House to hit into a fielder’s choice collecting Gallegos at third base – the ’Cats were just warming up. Meeker went wanting in the top of the sixth and Ignacio seized the opportunity, tallying a decisive six runs – two via a one-out Tucson double – in the home half en route to an 11-5 win.
“I told ’em … baseball’s an up-and-down game,” Hayes said. “They’d made progress with Dove Creek; the score didn’t reflect it [the visiting Bulldogs had won the May 4 season-opener 5-0], but it showed them the goods and the bads. Then they came out today, got opportunities to get ahead and held with it.”
Eppie Quintana went 2-4 with a triple, two runs and one batted in, while Phillip Quintana finished the opener 2-3 with a walk, two runs and one batted in. Tucson was 1-4 with a run and two RBI, while Gallegos was 2-3 with a walk, run and RBI.
“It’s something we can build on,” Hayes continued. “I really hope that these kids see that the work we do during the week is going to pay off. I think the kids saw … that it really does work, and we have things we can fix for next week.”
IHS improved to 2-1 overall prior to welcoming highly rated Cedaredge for a doubleheader Saturday, May 15.