Fri Jun 2nd, 2023
Special to the Drum
Blanked 10-0 in five innings by Limon to end regular season action a week earlier, Wray’s Eagles probably didn’t expect to be facing the same Badger bunch Saturday afternoon, May 20, with a berth in the CHSAA Class 2A State Tournament’s ‘Great Eight’ phase at stake.
Despite entering the Region I Tournament with a losing record, WHS – seeded 17th in the State tourney’s opening Round-of-32 – positioned themselves as potential giant-killers by upsetting No. 16 Ignacio 14 to 9 in the day’s second semifinal. Hosting the four-team event at Bob Smith Memorial Baseball Park, 1-seed LHS had already bageled No. 32 Sedgwick County 11-0 in a swift five-inning opener, thanks mainly to an eight-run third.
Despite a gutsy five-run rally in the bottom of the seventh, however, IHS had fallen too far behind to bring down the birds and ended the 2023 season standing 14-9 overall.
Scoring three runs in the top of the first and two more in the second, Wray (10-13) jumped out to a 5-0 lead against Bobcat junior Phillip Quintana and would ultimately scratch out at least a run in all but the third inning. Stabilized defensively by senior Eppie Quintana – initially held in reserve in case of an expected clash with Limon but summoned out of urgency to relieve his brother – Ignacio fought back and closed the scoreboard gap to 6-4 after a three-run fourth.
Unfortunately, WHS countered with four runs in the top of the fifth and added two more unanswered tallies in the sixth, putting IHS in a serious 12-4 hole going into the last regulation inning at the corner of Highway 71 and 5th Street.
All told, freshman Ambrose Valdez went 3-for-4, scored two runs and drove in three. Still swinging a capable stick, Phillip Quintana (1.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 3 HB, K) went 1-4 with a sacrifice fly, reached once via error, and also totaled three RBI.
Junior Marcus Maez drew two of Ignacio’s three bases-on-balls and finished 1-for-2 with two runs scored. Senior Zane Olguin also scored twice and plated one run while going 2-3 with a hit-by-pitch, and classmate Eppie Quintana (L; 5.2 IP, 8 H, 9 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 K, 4 wild pitches) went 1-4 with a walk and reached twice via error.
He was credited with one RBI, as was junior Devante Montoya (2-4, R). Senior Dylan McCaw concluded his career scoring two runs and finishing 1-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch. Junior Rylan Maez and freshman Stoney White Thunder, meanwhile, both struggled in defeat; each went 0-5.
AFTERMATH: Reaching the ‘Sweet 16,’ Wray lost 10-5 to Limon and dropped to 10-14 overall. The Badgers, meanwhile, improved to 21-4 and were to next face No. 9 Burlington (13-9) on Friday, May 26, at the Runyon Complex in Pueblo.