Ignacio pitcher Iaasic Pena shrugs contently and confidently
Ignacio head coach Lupe Huerta addresses the Bobcats
Ignacio pitcher Iaasic Pena shrugs contently and confidently as Hotchkiss' annoyed Tye Bayles (15) discards his helmet after being retired to end the first inning of the teams' 2A-District 2 Tournament quarterfinal game May 10 at Delta Middle School. Hotchkiss, descending a classification this year, had been a 3A Final Four team as recently as 2011.
Ignacio head coach Lupe Huerta (wearing sunglasses) addresses the Bobcats after a 3-0 loss to Hotchkiss in the 2A-District 2 Tournament quarterfinals May 10 at Delta Middle School. To Huerta's left is lone senior Andy Guire — meaning the bunch should return nearly intact in 2014.
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Thumbnail image of Ignacio pitcher Iaasic Pena shrugs contently and confidently
Thumbnail image of Ignacio head coach Lupe Huerta addresses the Bobcats

Even in loss, Bobcats baffle Bulldogs

IHS a tough out at districts

In a game featuring no-quit pitching, smart small-ball hitting and timely fielding, the Hotchkiss Bulldogs beat the Ignacio Bobcats 3-0 in the second quarterfinal of the 2A-District 2 Baseball Tournament.

Pitchers Iaasic Pena of IHS and Devan Rupe of HHS each went the distance, two HHS runs came via fielder’s-choice groundouts, and IHS centerfielder Clayton Jefferson flagged down three potentially-damaging flies during the game.

“We knew nobody really expected us to do anything. We knew we were tough,” said designated hitter Antonio Torres at the close of the Bobcats’ 3-15 season. “From the beginning of the season … [it] felt like we had a chance to do a lot more.”

“These kids just wowed me today,” head coach Lupe Huerta said. “I tell them ‘You’re much more capable than what we’ve been playing,’ and today they did it. I was very proud of them.”

Retiring 12 of the final 13 batters he faced in order, Pena finished his six-inning complete-game decision with nine strikeouts against just one base-on-balls. He allowed just three hits, with only three-hole Russ Evans’ first-inning single driving in a run, and four fly balls to the outfield.

“It was just make-it-or-break-it,” Pena said. “We either had to play hard and get a win, or go home. Just trying to make every play like it’s my last play.”

“Only four out there’s pretty good!” leftfielder Joe Herrera said. “It’s kind of boring at the same time, but you’ve got to give credit to your pitcher if he’s going to pitch that good of a game!”

Nine-hole Cole Carvill and leadoff stick Devan Rupe (who scored on Evans’ knock) each singled to start the hosts’ third and were brought in, respectively, by a Hank Edwards grounder to IHS shortstop Tucker Ward and an Evans worm-burner speared by diving IHS second baseman Anthony Manzanares.

“We were feeling good from the start,” Herrera said. “And our defense, I thought, was pretty much unstoppable. We just couldn’t get the bats around; that’s pretty much what stopped us.”

Herrera, Ignacio’s leadoff man, was in the on-deck circle when Rupe (W; CG, 7 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 2 HB, 11 K) fanned Torres (0-2, BB) to end the fast-moving battle. One of the Bulldogs’ supporting arms — freshman ace Cesar Gonzalez started at short, with boss Jason Yantzer holding him in reserve for a possible championship-game start — Rupe’s big break came in the visitors’ sixth.

Pena and Manzanares each singled to start, and Bo Ward took a pitch to the helmet to pack the sacks with no outs. Tucker Ward then lashed a liner to the right side, but directly at second baseman Evans, who made the squeeze, then fired across to third baseman Brayden Wilson to double off Pena.

Rupe then froze Bobcat six-hole hitter Adison Jones on a called strike to complete his escape.

“There was a lot of pressure on me, because we didn’t know what to expect out of Ignacio,” he said after posting the first shutout of the Cats this spring. “They were better than everyone thought.”

Manzanares went 2-for-3, and Pena was 1-2 with a walk to lead IHS, while Rupe was 1-3 with two runs scored and Evans 1-3 with two RBI for Hotchkiss. Carvill was 1-2 with his aforementioned run.

“We didn’t adjust well to slower pitching,” said Rupe, comparing IHS to Western Slope League opposition. “If we’d have adjusted we would have been a little better. But it was on us; we didn’t adjust.”

“Knowing that everybody’s looking at us like we’re the underdogs … they don’t know what we’re capable of,” Pena said, “It’s good coming out and showing them how the real Bobcats play.”

“It was nice to have everybody … at 100 percent,” Torres said. “Next year we’ve got everybody back except one senior, Andy [Guire, third baseman]. … [We’ll] be a tough team next year.”



Following a semifinal win over Nucla, Hotchkiss fell 11-1 to neighboring rivals Paonia in the next day’s finale, dropping them to 15-7 overall while the Eagles improved to 16-5. But as the surviving teams from D-2, both will play this weekend beginning the State Championship Series.

Hotchkiss was awarded its 16-seed, and will play May 18 against No. 1 Rye (18-1) in Region I on Hobbs Field at the Pueblo-based Runyon Complex. Paonia drew the No. 5 and will open in Region II at Niwot High School against 12-seed Holyoke (18-3), with the winners from both contests then playing again at 3 p.m. for the right to advance to Championship Weekend — May 25 at All-Star Park in Lakewood.

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