Fri Jun 4th, 2021
Special to the Drum
Tags: 2A/1A San Juan Basin League, Adam House, BOBCATS BASEBALL, CHSAANow.com, Commenced Competition, Dove Creek, Drayden Taylor, Gabe Tucson, Head Coach Blake Carlquist, Hollembeak, Hotchkiss-Paonia, Hothkiss' Players, Hunter Moreno, IHS, Jacob Gallegos, Matt Pachl, Mercy Rule, Phillip Quintana, Six Inning, Tyler Marks, Victory, Will Poutre, Yandel Guereque
Whittling away an hour-long delay while waiting a replacement umpire’s arrival to what was slated to be a 10 a.m. doubleheader Saturday, May 29, at Ignacio, Hotchkiss’ players nonetheless commenced competition with a game of tic-tac-toe involving a baseball inked with the familiar 9-square grid, then tossed to and fro with the Bobcats until victory was achieved.
At least in theory; asked which crew won, one Bulldog at first responded he believed the game had ended in a draw, while others laughed as they weren’t even sure the game – especially the one in question – had actually been completed.
“There was, like, twenty games on that one ball!” joked a different HHS respondent. Action on the diamond, thankfully, would contain no such uncertainty.
Ranked No. 4 in the CHSAANow.com Class 2A poll going in, Hotchkiss’ strength at the plate and in the field produced a mercy rule-shortened, six-inning 14-4 victory in the day’s opener, and later a 13-3 win which went the regulation seven.
“We were hitting the ball well, from (out of) the … gate until the end,” said junior designated hitter Tyler Marks (3-5, 2B, R, 3 RBI in Game 1; 0-2, 2 BB, R, RBI in Game 2). “That’s something we did right, and we fielded the ball. Our practices have been really intense; we’ve just been improving daily.”
“Our entire starting roster, varsity, has been playing together for the past, like, five or six years,” he added, while also noting that the squad – already sporting ‘North Fork Miners’ shirts underneath their HHS-red jerseys, in anticipation of the recently-formed Hotchkiss-Paonia collective’s official 2021-22 debut – has zero seniors. “So we (blend) well together.”
“And you know, this is never an easy trip – a long road trip, staying overnight – and they really showed up ready to play. I’m very proud of that,” head coach Blake Carlquist said. “Credit to Ignacio; they can swing it! They were ready to … put the ball in play and made us work for everything.”
Seemingly able all day to snatch out of the air numerous sharply hit Bobcat liners, one could sense that junior Parker Pene’s robbery of IHS senior Adam House during the fifth inning of Game 2 was likely the clincher. With the ’Cats struggling to break through against Bulldog sophomore Yandel Guereque, House slashed a one-out rocket to the Hotchkiss shortstop’s left, which Pene – the winning pitcher-of-record in Game 1 (House took the loss) – incredibly speared with an airborne dive.
“That was big,” Guereque said. “I thought it was going to get on the ground, but Parker dove and got it!”
Able to retire ten Bobcats consecutively during one stretch, Guereque (W, CG; 7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, ER, 3 BB, 5 K) was crafting a two-hit shutout until IHS managed to scratch out three runs during a last-ditch seventh highlighted by freshman shortstop Jacob Gallegos’ RBI-double plating junior Gabe Tucson (L; 6 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K). Gallegos would then score via Devante Montoya’s one-out groundout to Pene, but Guereque brought the show to a close striking out leadoff ’Cat Jace Carmenoros.
All told, Ignacio’s finest moments occurred in Game 1. Down 3-0 after the twinbill’s very first half-inning, following a two-out Bulldog rally keyed by freshman third baseman Hunter Moreno’s two-RBI double off House (3.1 IP, 11 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, K), the Bobcats answered in short order. Carmenoros would reach base on an error by then-shortstop Guereque and later score via a wild Pene pitch to Eppie Quintana (1-4, R), after being bumped up to third base by Phillip Quintana’s single.
Phillip Quintana (1-4) would then score via senior catcher Lawrence Toledo’s two-out infield single, but rightfielder Lane Allen then halted the comeback flagging down a Tucson screamer which had extra bases practically written all over it. Hotchkiss would later pound out three two-out runs in the top of the third inning, but Ignacio would parlay a two-out walk to Clint Talamante-Benavidez into a run when Toledo (1-2, BB, RBI) also drew a walk and Tucson (2-3, 2B, 2 RBI) singled to center.
But 6-3 would be the closest IHS would approach the rest of the day; Hotchkiss all but put the opener to rest in the top of the fourth, with junior Coulson Hollembeak (1-2, INT-BB, BB, HBP, 2 R, 4 RBI) bashing a one-out, two-run homer to left and Marks driving home Moreno (2-2, 2B, 2 BB, SAC-FLY, 3 R, 4 RBI) two batters later with a double to left.
No. 9 hitter Matt Pachl would go 3-for-4 in Game 1 with two runs scored plus an RBI, while Pene (4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K) would end up 1-for-3 with two walks, two runs and a ribbie.
In Game 2, Gallegos finished 1-2 with a walk, run and an RBI. Phillip Quintana and Talamante-Benavidez each went 1-3, while Toledo went 1-3 with a run. Hollembeak, meanwhile, went 3-5 with a ground-rule double, a run and two batted in. First baseman Ian Aguilera went 3-5 with a run and two RBI, while Guereque went 1-4 with a double, walk, three runs and two RBI.
Leftfielder Will Poutre enjoyed a strong outing, reaching base all five of his plate appearances in finishing 2-4 (he also reached via two IHS errors) with a walk. Catcher Drayden Taylor had turned the trick in Game 1; tagged by two pitches and also issued a walk, he also doubled once and reached via a fielder’s choice.
Up next for Ignacio will be a 2A/1A San Juan Basin League test Saturday, June 5, at Dove Creek with first pitch set for 11 a.m. Standing 2-6 overall after facing HHS (9-1), results from the Bobcats’ 6/2 two-fer versus Parachute-based Grand Valley (0-12) were unavailable at press time.
And despite the hapless Cardinals having been outscored 45-0 in their previous two outings, Tucson had one piece of advice to offer his teammates, so to avoid any sort of disastrous upset:
“Come prepared. Don’t doubt any team,” he said. “And don’t give up; there’s always an inning to play – to go do work!”