Sanford scrambles to save Saturday sweep of Center

SANFORD Fielding a question about his squad’s fielding in Game 2 of Saturday’s home doubleheader, Austin Edgar sounded quite relieved that precise details had already escaped his memory.

“We were down nine to two at one point…just lots of errors,” said Sanford’s skipper. “Center, they forced us to make plays. They got the bat on the ball the second game…. It wasn’t too pretty. They had their share of errors too; it was kind of a sloppy game. But that just happens sometimes in league.”

“We got off to a pretty fast start, had a lot of things going for us,” CHS counterpart Stefan Welsh said. “We were hitting well, stuff like that, and got—I believe it was—an 8-1 lead. And then we ended up losing; it just came down to…. Kind of a ‘walk-off’ error.”

Concluding a clash which had initially commenced with a mistake—SHS righthander Nate Ortiz plunked Viking Nabor Quintana with the twinbill’s very first pitch, setting in motion the visitors’ two-run first—the Indians saved a 7-4, 12-11 sweep when a failed pick-off attempt at the hot corner granted the winning run safe passage.

And that was the detail Edgar, himself a former Indian, won’t soon forget.

“It was Max Stark,” said Edgar, of his lone available substitute who’d sat the opener before serving as Sanford’s designated hitter and late-inning rightfielder in Game 2. “He ended up drawing a walk and scored.”

“The thing about that kid, it’s pretty crazy; he—it’s been a year and a half, probably—and another kid rolled a car during winter. Just rolled the car and nobody found them until the next morning,” he continued. “So they had frostbite, he had some crazy injuries…. So I was pretty happy to see him get that run.”

Especially off Center’s Patrick Mortensen, who’d already taken a hard-luck loss in Game 1 despite striking out 10 in four innings. With a bench almost as limited as Edgar’s, Welsh had little choice but to summon the junior back to the mound after Game 2 starter Cristian Guaderama (who’d not only caught Mortensen in Game 1, but also fanned three in dealing two hitless frames in relief) ran into trouble.

“Cristian…did well, had a few strikeouts,” Welsh said, “but near the end was getting pretty hittable the fourth time around seeing those guys. In the seventh inning I brought [Mortensen] in after one guy got a hit off Chris—he’d just thrown too many pitches at that point—so…Patrick still had 20 pitches to give.”

“He’s the kind of guy that’s going to go someplace and…I wish that our defense was a little better for him; really, we should win every game that he starts.”

Able to battle even more effectively, allowing CHS (1-10, 0-4 2A Southern Peaks) only three hits while striking out seven to off-set four walks and one hit batter, Ortiz completed six innings to earn the Game 1 win—preserved by Donny Chavez, who worked SHS (8-1, 6-0) out of a two-on, no-out jam in the top of the seventh.

Following Chavez and Jacob Deacon to the bump, Guy Larsen was the Indians’ Game 2 pitcher-of-record after working the final two innings and allowing two runs on two hits, with just as many walks and strikeouts. 

Offensively for Sanford, leadoff hitter Thad Jackson went 2-for-4 with two runs in Game 1, Ryan Jackson was 2-3 with a run and an RBI, and Maguire Peterson was 1-3 with an RBI-double and one run. Deacon was 2-3 with a run and RBI—via a fourth-inning single, plating Chase Holman for the team’s third score that frame, breaking open what had been a 4-4 contest.

Mortensen and Guaderama each went 1-3, with the former’s only run coming via the latter’s first-inning, RBI-groundout to Chavez at short. Ismael Palacios was 1-2 with a walk and RBI.

Capping the #10-ranked [ Class 2A poll, 4/10] Indians’ third win in their week’s four outings, Deacon went 4-4 with three doubles, three runs and two RBI in Game 2. Thad Jackson was 3-5 with a double, two runs and two batted in, Ryan Jackson was 3-4 with two runs, and Chavez had a triple and three RBI.

Stark drew two walks and actually scored twice.

“The kids battled back and won, so that’s what matters,” Edgar said. “We haven’t swept Center for probably five or six years, if not more.  So it was good; I’m sure we’ll have to play them again.”

But in the nearer future, SHS will next visit Sargent on Saturday, April 22, for a 10 a.m. doubleheader with control of the SPL at stake. Center, meanwhile, will next host Cripple Creek-Victor on the same day and time, hoping to build on the positives produced in the two tough tries.

After going 0-1 with a walk, run and sacrifice bunt in Game 1, Esteban Perez went 3-4 with a double, run and RBI in Game 2, and Quintana was 2-5 with a walk and two runs. Mortensen was 1-2 with a triple and two RBI, and also drew three walks (as did Palacios, 1-2 with a walk and an RBI in Game 1) and scored three times.

“Honestly, we’re getting better all the time,” said Welsh, a former Viking. “The wins will come; it’s just kind of tough for them to see right now.”

“We really played pretty well,” he added. “But in the end I think Sanford probably deserved to win; they never stopped fighting and it was good for them.”

Caption: Sanford’s Maguire Peterson (9) plows through the home-plate dirt to score a run during the Indians’ 7-4 win over Center in Game 1 of Saturday’s home doubleheader.