Hearing that San Juan Basin League arch-rival Dolores suffered a fate Saturday afternoon worse than most would have expected still probably wasn't much concolation for Ignacio.
Dolores could hardly hold a matchstick, much less a candle, to #1-ranked Paonia in the 2A-District 3/5 Tournament's semifinals. The undefeated Eagles destroyed DHS, 28 to 1.
It was the Bears, however, which had visited IHS Field two days before and pulled off a 14-7 upset, abruptly ending the Bobcats' hot-or-cold spring without a road trip up to Parachute and date at postseason-neutral 3A Grand Valley.
"We ended nine-and-ten, right under .500, and that's not what you want from your season," said junior Marcus Chapman, who went 2-for-4 with a leadoff triple, run and two RBI offensively. "And then losing to a team that you've beat twice, that kind of sucks too. It's a little sad, you know?"
Able to counteract Dolores' two runs in each of the first two innings with one in the bottom of the first and a promising four in the second, Ignacio lost the lead for keeps in the top of the third.
Helped by shortstop/pitcher Justin Purkat's bases-loaded, two-RBI double, DHS managed to push across five runs with two out and totaled seven in the frame before Cole McCaw threw out David Schmittel trying to swipe second against relief pitcher Zach Weinreich (0.1 IP, 0 H, ER, 2 BB, HB).
After a mutually-quiet fourth, the guests got going again in the fifth with two Bobcat errors, two walks, a beanball and a Schmittel single off senior Dalton Labarthe (2 IP, H, 3 R, ER, 3 BB, HB, 2 K) producing three more runs and a 14-5 advantage.
Alarmingly close to an inconceivable mercy-rule demise, IHS scraped together two time-buying runs in the home half of the fifth. Rendon Mestas (2-3, BB) and Kai Roubideaux (0-4, R) both reached base and scored against Brandon Ward (W; 4.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) via a Trace Lovelace sacrifice-fly and Weinreich double, respectively.
But with Weinreich-the last batter Ward would face-at second and Labarthe at first via a two-out walk issued by Purkat (2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, K), Chapman was unable to beat out a bouncer to short and Ignacio's last decent rally was put down.
"I just went up there thinking, 'I can hit this guy; I'm better than him.' That's the mentality I use every time," said Chapman, who then fanned four while holding Dolores hitless and scoreless in the sixth and seventh innings as the fourth Bobcat put upon the mound. "You've got to be confident when you go up."
"Couldn't bring in another run there at the end of the game, though," he lamented.
Bert Miller's choice to initially oppose Ward, senior Timmy Plehinger-Williams took the loss after lasting 2-2/3 innings, giving up four hits and 10 runs (but only five earned), walking two, plunking two and whiffing two.
He'd go 1-for-3 with a sacrifice-fly and two RBI towards his own cause, while Lovelace went 1-3 with another sacrifice-fly, run and ribbie, and Weinreich 1-3 with a run and RBI.
Batting second for skipper Rusty Hamilton, Purkat reached base four times in five plate appearances, doubled for his only hit, scored twice and plated a pair. Ward went 0-3, but was walked and hit by a pitch, allowing him to score twice. Dakota Smith was 0-2 with a sacrifice-fly, walk and hit-by-pitch, and scored one run while driving in two. Schmittel finished 1-4 with two runs and one RBI.
Having posted a second-place 4-2 mark in the SJBL during regular-season play, the 'Cats finished an underachieving 9-10 overall. The Bears, whose April 27 SJBL finale versus Nucla was scrubbed due to that weekend's snowstorm and ultimately not rescheduled, finished 2-3 in league and 7-12 overall.
A league-best 5-0 in 2017, Nucla improved to 12-9 overall with victories over Fleming (12-3) and Cheyenne Wells (10-5) last Saturday in the eight-team Class 1A State Championships' quarter- and semifinal rounds, respectively-landing the 7-seed Mustangs in the grand finale against 1-seed Holly (13-2).