Warriors open district play with victory

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The high school baseball season can be broken up into three segments — the pre-district season, district play and the state playoffs. After going 6-6 to start the year, the Socorro Warriors opened up the District 3-3A season, 1-0, by beating the visiting Hatch Valley Bears on Tuesday.

“It’s always good to come away with a win,” said SHS head coach Kenny Gonzales of the Warriors’ 8-2 win. “We were finally able to limit our errors. The last few games we’ve had trouble with that, and it was a little nerve racking when we made a few errors there in that first inning.”

Warrior miscues helped stake the Bears (2-9) to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but timely hitting and a solid pitching performance by Socorro starter Daniel Gonzales assured victory for the home team.

In the bottom of the first, Michael Chavez began a two-out rally with a single through the hole. After a hit batsman and a walk, J.C. Peguero cleared the bases with a double to left field. Nico Prieto followed with a base hit that scored Peguero, and the Warriors were on top 4-2.

Socorro added to the lead in the second, again getting things started after two were out. Zack Binger laced a triple to right-center field and scored on Chavez’s single up the middle.

The Warriors went up 7-2 in the third when Prieto ripped an RBI double down the left field line, advanced to third on the throw to the plate and scored on a wild pitch.

Socorro tacked on another run before the game was through, but it wasn’t needed with Daniel Gonzales throwing a gem. The senior didn’t allow a hit after the first frame and struck out 13 in registering a complete game.

“He’s my new ace,” said coach Gonzales, who is having to make due the rest of the season without left-hander Charles Peralta for academic reasons. “He’s coming off knee surgery and you can tell he’s getting stronger. He throws hard, has a good change up and a good curve. When he gets in rhythm, he’s hard to hit.”

Gonzales’ battery mate, Dominic Montano, deserved some of the credit for his teammate’s performance. The junior, who began the season as the starting second baseman but was forced to move behind the plate because of an injury to Jonathan Baca, made a dazzling catch of a foul ball against the backstop for the Bears’ second out of the third inning.

“Catching is a lot different from playing second base, so it’s been a little bit trial and error,” coach Gonzales said. “But he’s learning to block the ball and throw people out. Throwing out base runners is big, because not only does it get you and extra out but it eliminates a (possible) run from scoring.”

The coach said there’s hope the Warriors might have Baca back before the end of the season. The starting catcher broke the thumb on his throwing hand trying to block a ball just prior to the season starting.

“He gets his cast off April 2nd, so depending on what the doctor says he could be back after a week or two. That would help our chances,” Gonzales said.

The Warriors played their second district game at Hot Springs Friday after El Defensor Chieftain press time. They play another road game at Silver next Thursday and return home April 10 to host Cobre.

“The way it looks right now, when you read different websites and talk to different coaches, Cobre is the team to beat in our district,” Gonzales said.

The Warriors are hoping to pick up a couple games before then. A doubleheader scheduled against Pojoaque Valley to start the season was cancelled due to snowy weather. Gonzales said he’s trying to work something out with Magdalena to make up for the lost games.

 


-- Email the author at tslast@dchieftain.com.