Dolores certainly put the ball into play solidly a few times Monday afternoon, April 9.
You have to give them that.
But with Ignacio allowing six Bears to reach base via fielding errors, the hosts were their own worst enemy in a 15-5 loss at IHS Field.
"When we get little things going wrong, we tend to melt," said pitching coach Clay Miller. "We need to come together as a team more, try to stop little errors from affecting the game and making a big inning out of it."
"As soon as somebody makes some mistake, then everybody just gets their heads down," centerfielder Joe Herrera said, not excluding or excusing himself after a mentally-taxing seventh he'll quickly forget.
He caught three consecutive DHS fly balls in the top of the sixth, then led off the home half out-hustling a dropped third strike to reach base for a third time in four at-bats. Then having consumed even more energy sprinting multiple times unsuccessfully to second as part of a failed hit-and-run scheme, Herrera was unable to complete a diving catch of David Schmittel's drive to left-center, leading off the visitors' seventh.
Four batters later, IHS reliever Adam House issued a bases-loaded walk to Tel Hamilton, plating the first of what would end up being six runs in the inning for Dolores. Already putting together an effective complete-game effort on the mound for Dolores (3-7, 2-2 2A/1A San Juan Basin League), Cameron Chavez followed with a one-out sacrifice fly to left, scoring Kevin Purkat. Dakota Smith then walked to reload the bases.
Cole McCaw (0.1 IP, H, R, BB) then took over pitching for House (1.2 IP, 2 H, 6 R, ER, 3 BB), but Justin Purkat worked for an RBI-walk and Neil Farias followed with a high, but relatively routine fly to center, which Herrera couldn't squeeze. Running with the pitch, Hamilton, Smith and Purkat all scored to give DHS a decisive 10-run advantage in the teams' first clash since Dolores's district-tournament win last spring ended IHS' 2017 season.
"I'm tired!" Herrera quipped afterwards. "My legs are kind of crazy, but I'm feeling I can play more."
Herrera then triggered a vital counterstrike against the Bears with a first-inning double. After Farias put Dolores up 3-0 against Kai Roubideaux with a two-out, 2-RBI double, Herrera got Ignacio on the board via a one-out single to center by Trace Lovelace.
Supporting himself in the best way possible on a day where his control wasn't its best, Roubideaux (L; 5 IP, 4 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, HB, 10 K) then socked a Chavez pitch over the right-center fence to tie the score at 3-3. He would finish 2-for-4 with two runs and as many batted in.
"Kai's been a gamer all year," said Miller. "Struck out 10. We've just got to play defense behind him."
Helped by a two-base Lovelace error at short off Smith's bat, Hamilton (0-3, 2 BB, 2 R, RBI) and Chavez (1-3, BB, 3 R, RBI) scored in the top of the third to put Dolores ahead, and the Bears put three more runs up in the fifth before Roubideaux left the hill striking out Hamilton for a third time.
He'd lead off the bottom of the fifth with a single, then score three batters later via a Marcus Chapman single up the middle.
But after McCaw (2-3, R, RBI) singled, Chavez (W; 7 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) stopped the rally by getting Lawrence Toledo (2-3) to line out sharply to Farias at third.
With only Herrera reaching base against him after that, Chavez retired the final six 'Cats he faced to end the game.
"We were hitting," Herrera said (2-4), alluding to the fact eight of the nine men in the batting order each lashed at least one hit. "We came out hard...just need to come back, do it all the innings and play like a team."
Coming in the wake of a tough 9-6 loss to 1A state champions Nucla, the loss dropped Ignacio to 4-7 overall, 1-2 in league with a showdown against Western Slope League powerhouse Paonia, the 2A champions, on Saturday, as well as a second game against Hotchkiss.
"We need to put more work in our defense, and definitely go up to the plate aggressive, not thinking you're going to go up there and strike out, but go up there thinking you're going to get hits," Herrera said. "Stick to the plan with our heads up, and just.play like Ignacio knows how to play."
"Maybe we'll give 'em a game," said Miller. "Nothing to lose!"