Bobcats sign off splitting pair with Pirates

After initially sliding past the bag on a successful steal attempt, Ignacio’s Lawrence Toledo (20) just gets underneath the tag of Olathe’s Bryson Inda (11) while stretching back to second base during the first game of a June 12 road doubleheader at the Pirates’ Hubbard Field.
Ignacio's Clint Talamante-Benavidez (21) pitches during the Bobcats' Senior Day home game Tuesday, June 8, versus Nucla at IHS Field. The visiting Mustangs, at the time ranked No. 7 in Class 1A, would win 14-2.
Ignacio's Lawrence Toledo skies to snare a high throw home, as Nucla's Riley Porter (9) slides towards the plate during the Bobcats' Senior Day home game Tuesday, June 8, versus the Mustangs at IHS Field. Porter would be safe on the play, helping NHS – ranked No. 7 in Class 1A at the time – to a 14-2 win.
Ignacio's Jacob Gallegos (12) sprints across home plate to score a run – via a wild pitch thrown by Olathe's Dimitri Prisbrey (2) – during the Bobcats' second game of a June 12 road doubleheader at the Pirates' Hubbard Field.
Ignacio's Adam House (center) and Clint Talamante-Benavidez (21) step off Olathe's Hubbard Field following a June 12 road doubleheader – the last two games of the all Bobcat seniors' prep-baseball careers. IHS split the day with the Pirates, winning 6-2 and then losing 4-3.
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

Lefty hurlers Tucson, House solid in Olathe

Clearly excited to be back in uniform after returning from a by-invitation basketball camp at Concordia (Neb.) University, it was tough to tell – if one was wearing an Olathe baseball uniform Saturday morning, June 12 – whether Ignacio junior Gabe Tucson had or hadn’t performed well at the out-of-state event.

If things had gone well, Tucson was going to be all the more motivated to work atop the pitcher’s mound; if things hadn’t, well … someone – the hometown Pirates in this case – would have to face his hard-throwing wrath. Which showed itself relatively quickly in the form of the home-plate umpire losing a layer of skin off his right forearm when a fastball during the home half of the first inning bypassed both OHS batter Ian Schenck as well as IHS catcher Lawrence Toledo.

“When we’d played Cedaredge, they have a pitcher Trey (Geyer) … he throws heaters too, and we struggled against them,” recalled Olathe leadoff man Dimitri Prisbrey, who’d already struck out looking (Schenck would then do likewise). “Usually everyone struggles with a fast pitcher because they don’t know what to do. And when I say my key word – patience – that ain’t going to work! You’ve got to go … quick to the ball!”

“They’d informed me about what happened,” Tucson said, referring to the Bobcats’ 14-2 home loss four days earlier to 2A/1A San Juan Basin League power Nucla and power pitcher Tyler Wytulka, who fanned 13 in five innings, “and I decided that I really needed to step up and help the team.”

“And I felt really good. I felt energetic; I really wanted to win the game.”

Firing from Hubbard Field’s hill as though Ignacio still could reach the Class 2A State Tournament’s initial 24-team regional phase (going in, the ’Cats stood 29th in CHSAA’s RPI calculations; Olathe was 34th), Tucson would do precisely that.

Allowing just two singles to Pirate second baseman Brandon Nicolas and scattering five walks, Tucson totaled 12 strikeouts and allowed just two runs (one earned) during his 6-2/3 innings, before rightfielder Phillip Quintana came in to get Prisbrey to fly out to center – marooning Nicolas at third and Juan Carlos Enrique at first – and secure a 6-2 victory.

Highlighted by consecutive RBI-singles by Eppie and Phillip Quintana, scoring senior Clint Talamante-Benavidez (2-4, R) and then Tucson, a four-run second against OHS senior Wyatt Mansker (L, CG; 7 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) proved the difference. Eppie Quintana (2-3, 2B, 2 R, also reached via error) would later swat an RBI-double during the visitors’ sixth, plating Tucson (0-3, BB, reached via error, 2 R), and would soon score himself via a Rylan Maez infield single.

“The pitchers … were just huckin’ it and neither team could find their bats,” Nicolas said. “The other team obviously did a little better and that was the difference.”

“We just kept stressing to be aggressive at the plate, take (the game) out of the hands of the umpire,” IHS head coach Don Hayes said. “If we focus before each pitch, what we’re supposed to do with it, good things happen. So maybe that sunk in – I believe it did.”

In Game 2, however, the Pirates answered Bobcat Jacob Gallegos’ ice-breaking run with a 4-spot of their own triggered by a Prisbrey leadoff triple to center away from Tucson, replacing an unavailable Devante Montoya. Schenck then knocked Prisbrey in with a single to right, and Gavin Hall then reached first via a Tucson error.

IHS lefty Adam House then appeared to settle into a groove; the breaking-ball specialist got both Mansker and Austin Arnold swinging before plunking Nicolas to load the bases. One of a very few non-seniors on Olathe’s roster, freshman shortstop Bryson Inda (2-3) then belted a triple to deep left, driving in all three of his ’mates, before House got Raquel Lovato to bounce back to the mound for an easy toss to Talamante-Benavidez at first.

“We had seven seniors on the field today, and we wanted to finish off strong,” said Nicolas (0-2, HBP), one of that bunch. “And that’s just what happened.”

“After the first game, everyone was upset,” Prisbrey said. “We were hoping … like, ‘There’s going to be a new pitcher, it’s a new game, we’re going to start from here.’”

But House all but put a rapid end to any plans the Pirates may have been pondering. Able to whiff four hitters in a row during one stretch, House would close out a defiant complete-game effort retiring the final seven batters he’d face.

“Took me a minute to get going, but after the first I was just cruising,” he said afterwards. “I felt really good out there on the mound. Everybody was ready to play; we haven’t been on the road much this year.”

Prisbrey, too, would end his own prep career going the distance on the bump and earned the ‘W’ in shining fashion.

Having surrendered just an unearned Toledo third inning run after Gallegos’ game-opening run – resulting from a wild pitch to Talamante-Benavidez – Prisbrey would at last give up another run in the sixth as Phillip Quintana doubled to left, took third base via a Marcus Maez sacrifice bunt, and then crossed the plate via a wild pitch to Jace Carmenoros.

Able to halt the potential rally by getting Carmenoros to ground out to third, Prisbrey had to regroup mentally after watching House (L; 6 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, HB, 8 K) sit down Nicolas, Inda and Lovato pinch-hitter Warren Wagner in OHS’ sixth.

“I was looking up in the stands, seen my family up there, and I appreciated them to come because … . Usually my dad works, doesn’t come, so it was really nice that he was here,” said Prisbrey, who went 2-3 offensively with his triple plus a fielder’s choice. “And I know a lot of people are working, but they made time.”

“I was like, ‘I’m a senior, this is my last time here,’ and I knew the umpire was liking the outside strike,” he continued. “So it was like, ‘That’s going to be my spot.’ I started throwing there and finished the season strong.”

And targeting that location, Prisbrey (7 IP, H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, HB, 8 K) froze in succession Gallegos (0-2, 2 BB, R), House pinch-hitter Rylan Maez, and Toledo (0-4, reached via error, R) with called third strikes.

“Lawrence is the only one that’s caught for me my whole high-school career,” noted House (0-1, BB, HBP), “so it means a lot to go out with these guys, end it with the people I started it with. I was excited to be back out there playing this year – didn’t get to play last year – and I’m sad it’s over.”

“I mean, it was a competitive game,” he noted, “and we had fun. We’d have like to won it but they played a good game,”

“Yeah, you’d want both of them,” Hayes agreed, “but … I felt they competed and gave themselves the opportunity to win. It’s disappointing the bats didn’t quite come together with that last pitcher – he has good stuff we couldn’t quite get to – but for the most part I felt they went after it; you can’t ask for any more than that.”

Ignacio finished the 2021 campaign standing 5-9-1 overall (the suspended second game at Rangely has apparently been deemed a tie, though Ignacio had led 3-0 at the time of stoppage). Going 0-3 in an unbalanced SJBL schedule – only Dove Creek (3-1 SJBL) played twice against both NHS (2-1) and IHS – the Bobcats went 5-6-1 against the 2A Western Slope League.

“It’s been a ride,” said Tucson. “Had ups and downs, had our good moments and bad moments, but we pulled through.”

Olathe, meanwhile, ended up 6-10 overall, 4-8 WSL; Hotchkiss (13-2 overall) bagged the league title with an 11-1 mark, with Cedaredge (12-4, 9-3 WSL) finishing second and Meeker (9-5, 7-5) third.

“Everyone’s kind of emotional because, you know, we love the sport,” Prisbrey said. “Junior year, our team felt … would have been our prime year; we were all starters our sophomore year – the seniors now – and we had a solid team. Then CHSAA was like, ‘You can’t play’ and we were kind of mad; I felt we could have grown so much, and this year could have done better.”

“At the beginning we did pretty good,” said Nicolas. “Then we went through a dry spell, lost to a few good teams … . I’m glad we got to end on a high note. After [Covid-19] happened … . It was good just to get together with the guys, and girl!”

ON SENIOR DAY

Against 1A Nucla on Tues., June 8, at IHS Field, only Gallegos and Eppie Quintana reached base by bat, with Mustang shortstop P.J. Hulst committing a clear fielding error against each during the first and sixth innings, respectively.

Neither man would score, however; Toledo (0-0, 3 BB) and Phillip Quintana (0-2, BB) would each walk and come around against Wytulka – who actually walked seven hitters all told – in the fourth, with the former scoring via a bases-loaded base-on-balls issued to a pinch-hitting Marcus Maez, and the latter via a bases-loaded wild pitch to House.

Denied a shutout, NHS still completed a six-inning combined no-hitter as first baseman Sam Puderbaugh replaced Wytulka (2-3, HR, 2B, INT.BB, BB, R, 2 RBI) and held IHS scoreless in the bottom of the sixth, fanning two and walking one.

Maez would remain in the game and finished a Toledo-like 0-for-0 with two walks; Gallegos and Eppie Quintana each ended up 0-2 with a walk as Ignacio left four runners in scoring position and seven on base overall.

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