SARGENT—Having just seen Ignacio senior Timmy Plehinger-Williams, hitless in three previous plate appearances (but twice hit by pitches), lash a long double to the leftfield fence with Saturday’s game deadlocked in the top of the seventh inning, Terry VanBibber’s decision to take the bat out of senior Zach Weinreich’s hands didn’t come as a surprise anyone present.
After all, he’d belted two two-baggers in his first two at-bats, driving in three of the visitors’ first five runs and then personally scoring the other two.
An unplanned, unintentional walk to junior Kai Roubideaux—who’d struck out each of his previous three AB’s—followed, loading the bases with one out, but after junior Ryan Davis froze five-hole hitter Rendon Mestas for the second, Sargent had little reason to believe recently-activated Juanito Medina would be as much a hero with the stick as he’d already been with his arm in long relief of Weinreich.
But with a playable, yet too-hot-to-handle grounder up the middle, the speedy senior plated Plehinger-Williams to regain a one-score lead. Hoping to sneak in an insurance run on the play, Weinreich would be trapped in a rally-killing rundown, but Medina aggressively fanned sophomore Eddie Gonzales and Davis starting the bottom half of the frame, and got Hunter Younkerman to pop foul to first base to secure a 6-5 road victory—atoning for a 14-0 home loss to the Farmers the previous weekend.
“We didn’t hit the ball as good as we did the first time we played. Twice we had the bases loaded and just didn’t get the big hits we needed—throughout the whole game,” said outfielder Ivan Jimenez. “I’d say that would be the biggest factor; you don’t win a lot of ballgames leaving the bases loaded.”
After Jimenez tied the non-league contest at 2-2 in the home half of the first with a two-out single plating Christian Schaller, who’d doubled off Weinreich (ND; 4 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 HB, 4 K) to drive home Younkerman, eight-hole hitter Eamonn Zollars would go down looking after Dylan Brandt wore a delivery.
And after Gonzales, batting ninth, ripped a two-out double in the third to score Brandt and trim the Bobcats’ lead to 5-4, Brandt went down swinging in the fourth with Schaller, Ty Harrison and Jimenez aboard. For Ignacio (1-3, 0-0 2A/1A San Juan Basin) it was a vital stop; Davis, who’d two-hit IHS at Bobcat Field, had just struck out the side in the inning’s top half after taking over for junior Trevor Milne.
“Our pitching’s phenomenal; we’ve got good guys and they’ll keep throwing strikes, keep us in games,” Jimenez said. “Trevor…pitched good, struck out a couple kids and he got going. And then Ryan…he’s been closing out our games and done an awesome job. As long as we keep doing that I think we’ll be fine.”
With Plehinger-Williams’ shot the only knock against him, Davis (L; 4 IP, R, 4 BB, HB) would finish with nine Ks and Milne (ND; 3 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, HB) five for an impressive 14 total strikeouts. Weinreich and Medina (W; 3 IP, 3 H, R, 0 BB, 0 HB, 6 K), meanwhile, combined for ten.
“I started a little slower…allowed two runs. Walked someone, then their three-spot got a nice rip to centerfield. So that was on me,” said Milne of the guests’ first-inning production. “And later on they were…getting a few pokes, nothing really solid. And the same for us—kind of a pitcher’s duel!”
“I think we were missing three starters—Spring Break—and I don’t know if they were missing any kids. We were missing our starting second baseman, rightfielder,” he noted, “and…it kind of messes us up—our starting catcher [Younkerman] had to go to left field—but we’ll get better from here. We’ll learn from it.”
Gonzales finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Younkerman was 2-4 with a sacrifice bunt, run and RBI.
“He has big potential—he was ripping the ball in the JV game the other day—and he’s up here for a reason,” Milne said of Gonzales. “He showed up today…it’s nothing new to us.”
“His freshman year we had high expectations for him to come in and catch…. He has a good future coming up,” agreed Jimenez (2-3, BB, RBI). “It’s a lot sooner than we thought, and…better for us! He did come up big.”
Schaller was 1-4 with a run and RBI, and Harrison 1-2 (BB, HBP, R) with a sixth-inning double. Zollars went 0-3 with three K’s, but brought Harrison home with a perfect sac-bunt in the third, and Milne went 2-4 with two singles after almost hitting for the cycle in Ignacio.
“When we won fourteen to nothing…. When you don’t have errors and don’t walk people, things usually turn out pretty good,” he said. “Today we did o.k.; we can play a lot better.”
“I think we did have a sense of urgency,” said Jimenez. “You get down three, four…it just keeps piling up, so we just kept cutting away. Kind of lacked it the last couple innings…where we had those at-bats that could have decided the game.”
Up next for the Farmers (2-5) will be their Southern Peaks League-opening doubleheader April 7 at Center.
Top: Sargent's Ty Harrison (23) tries getting a tag on Ignacio's Zach Weinreich (12) at third base Saturday afternoon at Farmer Field.
Bottom: Sargent's Trevor Milne (2) lets fly a pitch against Ignacio Saturday at Farmer Field.