IHS can’t corral Mustangs’ romp

Anthony Manzanares (2)
Iaasic Pena (1)
Ignacio's Anthony Manzanares (2) makes sure he makes contact with second base, completing a double play – started by Antonio Torres' catch in centerfield and ensuing throw – to retire Nucla's Graden Steffan (13) during SJBL action at SunUte Field on Friday, April 25.
Ignacio's Iaasic Pena (1) gets five from teammate Adison Jones (8) after touching home during the Bobcats' one-up, one-down SJBL split at Dolores on Tuesday, April 22.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

By spearing Devyn Rummel’s third-inning drive with a highlight-reel dive, and then doubling Graden Steffan off of second base with a perfect throw to Anthony Manzanares, Ignacio senior Antonio Torres – filling the cleats of absent regular centerfielder Clayton Jefferson – proved there was sufficient mental focus Friday, April 25th, for the Bobcats to face the visiting Mustangs.

After all, he’d already just made a fourth outstanding catch in as many tries against a squad bent on bashing the ball all around (and, on a few occasions, beyond) SunUte Field’s dimensions, looking to make amends from the still-discussed April 15 thriller in Nucla during the teams’ last meeting.

“You know we had a tough game against ’em last time– they’re one of the best [teams] in the district – and they gave us a sad loss.  So I thought … just put it all out on the line!” Torres said.

“Last…important varsity home game … you want to do everything you can to help your team, and I was just doing everything I could.  We just came up short.”

For after Caden Colson followed the grab with a single to right, the first ball the rangy Torres couldn’t reach – off the bat of NHS senior Kolby Starks – bounced all the way to the right-center fence for a triple (scoring Colson), and senior Blayde Harrigan then belted a two-run homer over leftfielder Austin McCaw to set in motion an eventual 12-1,12-3 sweep securing a 9-0 San Juan Basin League record.

“I think it’s going to be something great to say when you get older and stuff,” Harrigan said.  “Which is good…gives people incentive to keep it going for years.”

“It was just a good effort by everyone, all the way around,” said Game 1 winning pitcher Morgan Rummel (CG; 6 IP, 3 H, HB, 3 BB, 8 K).  “We were pretty…danged-near perfect–not many errors.  A few mental mistakes on baserunning, but I think other than that we did great.”

“We had a couple mistakes in the infield and…got down on ourselves,” IHS head coach Lupe Huerta said.  “That’s not the way they play; today was an off-day for them, and it showed in the score.”

Other than Cat sophomore Tucker Ward’s fourth-inning triple – he’d soon score on an error by Nucla third baseman Sladen Hendrickson – the only threat Ignacio posed in the doubleheader’s opener was a sinking liner hit by junior Iaasic Pena (L, CG; 6 IP, 13 H, BB, HB, 3 K), with Torres on first, in the bottom of the fifth which Starks laid out for and gloved.

“Late read on it,” he said, “and thought the wind was going to carry it further.  Luckily I got to it!”

Harrigan finished game one an impressive 4-for-4–including a triple in the top of the fifth and another homer in the sixth – with four runs scored and five driven in.

Starks and Tim Armintrout went 2-4 with an RBI, as did Devyn Rummel – owing to his first varsity homer.

“I saw a ‘meatball,’ so to speak, coming in on the inside,” recalled the freshman, “and just swung as hard as I could!  Put it right over leftfield…it felt good!”

After IHS went scoreless initially in game two, NHS (13-4 overall) increased a 2-0 lead to 6-0 in the top of the second with help from a triple by winning pitcher Clint Watt (4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 HB, 5 K) and a three-base error by McCaw in deep left off Devyn Rummel’s bat.

The Bobcats, countered in the frame’s home half with three runs. Ward led off with a single to center, and would later score on a two-out, bases-loaded walk to designated hitter Lorenzo Pena.

Torres then came through with a 2-RBI single back up the middle to score Adison Jones from third and Joe Herrera from second before Manzanares flew to right, ending the locals’ rally.

“We knew they’d hit. Played a good game against us last time…and we get ten-run ruled the next game? Obviously something was wrong,” said Torres.  “But we’ve got–really–nothing to lose … just going to go out there … with some confidence and hopefully take some of theirs.”

But not enough was swiped by the comeback; only six more Cats – Rain Rosa, Herrera and Pena were each beaned once, Bo Ward and Jones each drew a walk, and Tucker Ward reached on an error by Morgan Rummel at first – would reach base as Watt gave way to Armintrout (3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, BB, HB, 2 K).

Nucla, meanwhile, separated for good with four runs in the top of the sixth off Tucker Ward (2.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 0 BB, K), who’d relieved older brother Bo (L; 4.2 IP, 8 H, 7 R, BB, HB, 7 K) to get Devyn Rummel ending the guests’ fifth.

Junior Aaron Morgan (2-2, R, RBI) led off with a single to left, and was followed by consecutive doubles from Starks (3-5, 2 R, 2 RBI) and Harrigan (2-5, 2 R, 2 RBI) and an Armintrout fly.  Morgan Rummel then reached on an error at short, and would score after a Pena throwing error and ensuing fielder’s-choice throw by Jones – unsuccessfully trying to retire Watt, who’d struck out but was running after a dropped third strike – to second.

“Today they were just hitting the ball, in the spots we weren’t. I think that was the main thing – they were just getting good hits,” Tucker Ward said.  “And we were down on ourselves; we could have picked ourselves up a little more and that would have helped.”

“Obviously we’re disappointed in the outcome; I thought after our first meeting with these guys that we’d give ’em better games,” Huerta said.

Only Manzanares (1-4) and Jones (1-2, BB, R) had base-hits besides Ward and Torres in Game 2 for IHS, while only Colson – replaced by Morgan in the fourth inning –went without for the Mustangs.

“We just waited on the ball,” Harrigan said, “to see it better, had better at-bats…pitch selection.”

Dropped to a third-place 3-6 in the 2A/1A SJBL  and 8-8 overall, the Bobcats’ regular season ended with non-league action – a trip south to face the 3A Bloomfield, N.M., JV, on April 29, and a home finale versus the 3A Bayfield JV on May 1.

Results from both were unavailable before the Drum’s deadline.

“So what we’re looking at these next two games – we want to win them, but I just want to play good, solid fundamental ball,” said Huerta, “and get ready for districts doing that.”

“Talked to my captains about stepping up and leading this team–they get direction from me, but everybody knows if you have a couple kids on a team…. It’s more of an impact if they lead.”

 

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