Warrior varsity rolls past Belen JV

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The Warrior Varsity baseball team’s engine took a little time to fire up, but when it did, they rolled over the Belen JV Eagles 6-5 in nine innings.

Submitted photo courtesy of Melissa Amaro: Socorro’s Jonathan Baca picks off a Belen runner advancing to second base.

First bats by Belen challenged Socorro’s defense as Belen scored three runs at the bottom of the first inning. At the same time, however, Socorro was revving up their game both offensively and defensively. Socorro held Belen to the same score until the bottom of the second inning.

It was the top of the third inning that Kevin DeCosta and Dominic Montano each answered back for Socorro with singles to left field and stole second base respectively. Andrew Saiz’s RBI scored DeCosta and put the Warriors on the board 3-1. Belen added two more at the bottom of the third inning until Socorro’s catcher, Jonathon Baca, spoiled a bunt play when he chased down and tagged out the runner on third. The score was then 5-1 Eagles.

Head Coach Kenny Gonzales changed up the Warrior defense by switching short stop Ignacio Chavez and pitcher Montano. “It (the defensive switch) was not a negative result of Montano’s pitching effort, nor Chavez’s defense; I needed to make a change that would shake up Belen, and it did,” coach Gonzales said.

A two-out rally at the top of the fourth inning began when the Eagle’s pitcher No. 3 Rico Sanchez walked Justin Padilla. Ethan Smith advanced Padilla with his single to right field, and was replaced with runner John Jaramillo. The second baseman blundered the single by Zach Binger that advanced Padilla and Jaramillo. With bases loaded, DeCosta played it smart as he took the walk offered by the Eagle’s pitcher that resulted in Padilla scoring. This kept Socorro alive 5-2.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, once again Baca demonstrated his athleticism when chased down a fly ball toward the Socorro dug out, and dove to make the catch. The next two outs were completed by Padilla and Montano; three Eagles up and three Eagles out.

In the fifth, Saiz connected on one for a single to right field, but then stole second on the pitcher’s error when the pitcher overthrew to the first baseman. The ball was stuck in the fence line that gave Saiz an additional bag. Chavez struck out the Eagles’ pitcher for his first of eight Ks for the contest. Mantano also made a tremendous ESPN style grab when he dove by second base, got up, and stepped on the base for the forced (third) out.

Tanya Pyke/For El Defensor Chieftain: Dominic Montano, left, waiting for a ball to come in from Socorro pitcher Ignacio Chavez.

“He (Montano) is a solid shortstop, guaranteed to stop the ball and make the play,” Gonzales said. Belen was only up by two, the score at 5-3. Socorro’s defense held Belen to the same number of runs since the bottom of the third inning.

With the seventh inning down to the wire, Socorro needed something big to stay in the game. Chavez walked to first. Derrick Prieto’s hit rolled past the Eagles’ shortstop No. 12 Adan Contreras to the outfield that advanced Chavez as well as put him on first base. Baca’s hit brought in Chavez and moved around Prieto. Carlos Gomez replaced Baca to run. Smith slapped a ground ball past second that scored Prieto. The game tied 5-5.

The Eagles’ chance at bat in the bottom of the seventh commenced when Contreras was hit with the ball. But a smart play by Padilla spoiled a bunt play by Belen as he picked it off, checked and held his runner at second, but chose to make the sure out at first. The second out was made when Baca caught the pitch to No. 13 Marcos Gonzales and threw the ball to Montano, who picked off the runner at second. Gonzales then was Chavez’s fourth strike out victim.

The eighth inning left both teams scoreless as each defense held each other to three quick outs each. Socorro did not give up, and they seemed to have put their game into overdrive. “Baca and Montano demonstrated leadership on the team. They kept their team pumped up and motivated. We could have easily lost in the 4th instead of going nine innings,” Gonzales said.

Socorro’s start of the ninth inning seemed like it would be slowed down when the umpire called Chavez out on a bunt play as he stepped on the plate. But Prieto’s smash to right field enabled him to not only take first base, but he stole second and third as well. This put Socorro in scoring position. Padilla popped up and the Eagles’ catcher fumbled the ball that allowed Prieto to score. Belen’s last bat only enhanced Chavez’s strike out stats as he struck out the first and last batter, while Padilla caught a fly from the second batter. The Warriors took the game 6-5.

The Socorro JV battled but lost to Belen’s JV 12-11. Dru Ware’s pitching efforts kept the game close as Socorro was only down 9-3.

“We are continuing to prepare and develop our pitchers so that we can finish strong and be more competitive with the larger schools,” Gonzales said.

The Warriors were down 9-11 in the sixth inning, but came back and tied the game in the top of the seventh 11-11. But Belen scored the winning run at their last bat.

The Warriors will be preparing for district play, and they will continue to work on their situation plays and improve their hitting.

“We have good sticks, we are a good ball club, and we are a good come back team. We can come alive at any time; we just need to start it (hitting) earlier, “Gonzales said. Next game for the Warriors is in Socorro on Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. against Laguna.