BAYFIELD—Despite a seventh-inning dual ejection, resulting in the removal from play of Alamosa’s offensive hero and Bayfield’s defensive goat (who’d been BHS’ Game 1 defensive hero, however), there was still work to be done beneath a plummeting sun Monday evening.
And after verbal push nearly came to stronger physical shove, the Mean Moose succeeded in shoving what could have been a game-altering incident to the back of their collective mind—allowing them to focus on achieving something which 3A Intermountain League baseball teams have rarely managed to do in recent years:
Not only defeat the powerhouse Wolverines, but win in their proverbial house.
With pinch-runner Dillon Vroman on second base in place of tossed regular Hayden Farmer, who’d managed to steal the bag before confronting AHS’ Tyler Zimmerman about Zimmerman’s tag, and Alec Demko aboard at first after being unintentionally—yet somewhat ironically—plunked by Alamosa’s Gage Calder, Bayfield still had an opportunity to press for at least an extra inning.
But with one out, AHS leftfielder Mason Barrows made a spectacular running catch to deny Hub Brandon an extra-base knock, and Calder (1.1 IP, BB, HB) then got 6-hole hitter Kaleb Heck to pop up to shortstop Adam Crowder, securing an emotional 4-2 win and split of the teams’ IML twinbill.
“That second game…we played well, we pitched well, and I felt we made the routine play, the timely hit,” said head coach Jason Romero. “It was everything this game. So I’m proud of these guys and how they fought.”
“They persevered through some real low valleys there,” he continued. “It was unfortunate…to get some ejections, but that’s the nature of the game when it’s heated like that. They’re both competitors and they’ll be back.”
After getting the Moose (10-4, 4-2 IML) on the scoreboard with a sixth-inning run via a throwing error on the Wolverine leftfielder—who’d just scooped up Caden Alonzo’s single—Zimmerman struck again in the visitors’ seventh with an RBI-triple off Jake Brandon (L; 2 IP, H, 3 R, 0 ER, 4 K), plating Jose Manriquez.
He would then score again two batters later when Farmer, shifted over to man Brandon’s regular spot, botched an Alonzo grounder which would have ended Alamosa’s at-bat with no further damage done.
Alonzo (2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, BB, HB, 3 K) earned the win in relief of Game 2 starter John Lujan (3.2 IP, H, 5 BB, HB, 5 K), whose breaking pitches gave Bayfield problems all game. But after issuing three walks in the bottom of the fourth and also tagging BHS’ Austin Bushnell, Romero knew it was time for a change.
“When his breaking stuff is working, it’s good for us. Once he’s on, you know, we’ll leave him in there,” Romero said. “John’s been great. But once he started walking guys we decided he was going to have a short leash.”
But before Lujan left the hill, he managed to get two crucial outs in the form of a bases-loaded, no-out double play. Heck topped a ball to Manriquez, who quickly stepped on his base to force Demko and then threw home to catcher Kolten Hillis, who tagged out Bushnell.
Offensively in Game 2, Zimmerman finished 3-for-4 with two runs and the aforementioned RBI. Game 1 losing pitcher Chance Strand (5 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 7 BB, 7 K), utilized as a designated hitter in Game 2, went 2-4 and Lujan was 1-3 with a run. Alonzo went 1-3 and Hillis 1-4.
Farmer earned a 3-0 win in Game 1, throwing a complete game and allowing only a single to Zimmerman, Strand and Barrows. He walked only Hillis—beginning the game—and fanned 11.
“The first part of that game we walked too many, had two errors—that gave them two runs—and we just couldn’t hit,” said Romero. “Their pitcher neutralized us and we really couldn’t do anything. So hats off to him.”
Alonzo also deserved a Game 1 hats-off salute; after Strand was pulled with runners on second and third with none out in the Wolverines’ sixth, Alonzo promptly whiffed Vroman and Rhett Hoover, then doused the fire by getting Tyler Conner to ground to third.
“My first win with [against] Bayfield since I’ve been here, in my tenure…. It’s huge for the guys too,” stated Romero. “Going into Montezuma-Cortez this weekend, we’ve got to take two so we can at least take second [in the IML] and have a playoff bid. I think we can do that!”
The doubleheader against the Panthers (currently 8-7, 6-2) at McAndrew Field is set to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, while Bayfield (10-5, 7-1) will begin a two-fer at Monte Vista (5-11, 3-5) at the same time.
Caption: Alamosa’s Caden Alonzo (13) pitches during Game 2 of Monday’s IML doubleheader at Bayfield. Alonzo pulled relief duty in both contests, and earned the win in Game 2. Photo by Joel Priest