More energized Saturday by his team’s improved showing against Class 2A’s sixth-ranked Paonia than a relatively swift demise later that afternoon at No. 4 Hotchkiss, third baseman Rendon Mestas looked forward to Ignacio’s 2A/1A San Juan Basin League opener at Dove Creek three days later, and he had a fairly simple game plan in mind.
“They are pretty tricky,” he’d said. “But we’ve just got to get the ball on the bat, and pitching, and we’ll be fine. No errors, and we’ll come out with the win, for sure.”
Unfortunately, few of those goals were achieved in a 14-3 loss to Dove Creek, which was bumped up to No. 5 in the week-starting Class 1A rankings the day before. All of those goals will again be difficult to reach this Saturday, as the Bobcats’ quest for their first victory this spring will continue at home versus No. 2 Nucla.
With the Abel Velasquez Track and Field Invitational to already be in progress nearby, first pitch is set for noon.
The Mustangs will come to town standing 5-2 overall, 1-0 SJBL after a wild 14-13, eight-inning home win Tuesday against Dolores High, while the Bobcats slipped to 0-6, 0-1 after the loss out in overcast western Dolores County.
“Our pitching needs to come through, and our outfield needs to come through,” said Mestas. “Then we’ll be fine. I feel like we’re right there with the teams in our league. We’ve just got to buckle down and finish out games.”
Mestas’ confidence may be tempered with the injury to junior pitcher Ian Weinreich, who could be out for quite a while with a right pelvic fracture revealed by X-ray only about a day prior to visiting Dove Creek. He’d played against both Paonia and Hotchkiss.
Against Paonia, Ignacio managed a shutout-breaking, four-run fourth but could have clawed even nearer the Eagles had eight runners not been left on base, and four of those were stranded at third base.
Able to scratch out their lone run against Hotchkiss the old-fashioned way – Holland Roukema beat out a dropped third strike, reaching first on the catcher’s errant throw, then stole second, advanced to third via a Bela Torres sacrifice bunt and scored when Mestas reached on an error by the shortstop – IHS still left three runners on base, with two of those in scoring position at second.
And though 12 Bobcats reached base one way or another against Dove Creek (5-2, 1-1), five were marooned and a probable run was denied in the top of the second inning when Mestas, trying to get Ignacio on the Soper Sports Complex scoreboard quickly after DCHS exploded for six in the bottom of the first, was doubled off third base when it was ruled he’d left the bag early trying to capitalize upon Gerald Howe’s apparent sacrifice fly to left.
Against the three ranked crews, the Bobcats totaled just seven hits, led by Roukema’s combined 2-for-8 effort, while posting a 9:18 walk-to-strikeout ratio. Mestas, Roukema and Dylan Labarthe each reached base by any means a team-high four times, while Cesar Pedregon and Adam House each scored a team-best two runs.
Schedule correctionBecause of the current “unplayable” status of Dolores diamond within that town’s Joe Rowell Park, Ignacio’s scheduled April 8 road game against the Bears will instead be played that afternoon at IHS Field. The Bobcats will now visit Dolores on April 30.