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By: Kalith Smith, Director of Admission New Mexico Military Institute Last year I celebrated the arrival of the entering class of 2016 with a day at the Living Desert State Park in More »

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Colts take trio from Warriors, move into second place for district

Alejandro Lopez prepares to throw to first against Ruidoso.

NMMI Sports Press

Alejandro Barcenas rounds third base and scores in Game One.

The Colt baseball team completed their three-game district sweep over visiting Ruidoso, taking both ends of a doubleheader on Friday, 12-2  and 15-5.

In Game 1, NMMI started off the scoring in the bottom of the first inning with three runs. Andres Bleizeffer drove in two of those on a fly ball single to center field which scored Alejandro Barcenas and Gavin Maloney. Bleizeffer later crossed the plate thanks to a hard ground ball by Gunnar Schwab.

Ruidoso was unable to respond in the top of the second, despite a leadoff walk.

NMMI then scored again: with one out in the bottom of the second, the Colts tapped two back-to-back singles by Connor Roe and Francisco Rivera, and then a walk by Barcenas, to load the bases for Gavin Maloney. On the fourth pitch of the at bat, Maloney hit a triple to right field, clearing the bases.

Ruidoso’s first runs came in the top of the third. They plated two runs sans a hit, thanks to one walk and pair of Colt errors.

After a scoreless fourth inning by both sides, NMMI added a single spot in the bottom of the fifth thanks to an RBI single by Diego Salido, scoring Alejandro Lopez from second. Lopez got on base with a walk and took second on a sac bunt by Gunnar Schwab.

The Warriors were set down with three straight outs in the top of the sixth, and NMMI ended the contest early via the 10-run rule, thanks to an outburst of five runs in their final at bat. An error, walk and hit-by-pitch loaded the bases. Barcenas then scored from third on a wild pitch, Lopez walked to again fill the sacks, and Salido hit a fielder’s choice to second. The throw to the plate was in time, but the catcher failed to step on the plate before making a throw to first to try and get an out at first. The throw went sailing over the first baseman’s head and downthe right field line, scoring three NMMI runs and placing Salido safe at third. Salido then crossed home on a ground out by Jake Lieble for the mercy-rule win, 12-2.

Alejandro Barcenas rounds third base and scores in Game One.

Rivera went all six innings on the mound for the Colts to get the complete-game win. He threw just 99 pitches and allowed just one Ruidoso hit while collecting four strikeouts.

Game 2 was also shortened by the run-rule, with the Colts again winning in walk-off style in the bottom of the sixth.

NMMI posted three runs in the first, six more in the second, and a pair of in the fourth, all while holding the Warriors scoreless. The Colts had a chance to end the game after five, but Ruidoso refused to go down, plating four runs in the top of the fifth, off of three hits, a Colt error, and a walk.

Ruidoso then blanked NMMI in the bottom of the fifth, and posted another solo run in the top of the sixth to tighten up the ballgame, 11-5.

The Colts came back with four during their at-bat to end the game. Roe lead off and reached via an error; Rivera singled up the middle; and Barcenas also got on due to a Warrior miscue. That again brought Maloney up to the plate with bases loaded. He again went opposite field, driving in two with a single. Bleizeffer hit a ‘grounder-with-eyes’ up the middle for the Colts’ three run of the stanza, and NMMI’s final run came on Texas-league single by pinch-hitter Esteban Delgado.

Lopez got credit for the Game 2 win, hurling five complete innings before turning the ball over to Barcenas for the final three outs. Lopez allowed five hits and three earned runs, with one strikeout and zero free passes. Barcena gave up one run, one hit and one walk.

At the plate, Maloney was the Colts’ main weapon. He hit the cycle during the twinbill, going 5 for 6 with two singles, a double, a triple anda legitimate in-the-park homerun. He also had 11 RBIs and scored five runs.

Connor Roe fields a ground ball and prepares to throw to first base.

With the sweep, NMMI moves into second place in the District 4-4A standings with a 6-3 record, and an impressive 17-5 overall mark.

The Colts are off all next week – their next game won’t be until Monday, April 23 at Texico.

“We have three big games in Portales, which could determine playoff implications for seeding,” said head Colt coach Charlie Ward. “Hopefully we put ourselves in a position to host a first round playoff game.”

Those games vs. Portales will also be on the road, with a single contest on Friday, April 27 at 4:30 pm, followed by a pair on Saturday at 10 am and 12 pm.

Colts down Ruidoso

Francisco Rivera congratulates Jake Leible on scoring a run.

NMMI Sports Press

Gavin Maloney throws a pitch in the second inning on Thursday.

The Colt baseball team topped Ruidoso 5-2 in the first of a three-game District 4-4A series at home vs. the Warriors.

“For us it was a special moment,” said head coach Charlie Ward on earning their fourth district win.  ”First of all, assistant coach Steve Rogers is sick right now. He’s getting well, but he won’t be back in the dugout until our next series on Monday. And all the players were rooting for his health and a speedy recovery. We wish him the best.”

NMMI started off the scoring in the bottom of the first inning with a pair of runs. Francisco Rivera crossed home plate on a passed ball and Alejandro Barcenas later scored on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch with two outs; designated hitter Gus Curnutt got credit for the RBI.

Ruidoso responded with a two-out triple by Gabe Dorame, followed up with a single by Ian McClure, to score Dorame and make it 2-1 after the top of the second.

“We had several key hits in the right inning, which allowed us to put up multiple two spots on them,” said Ward.

Alejandro Lopez rounds second base against Ruidoso.

After a scoreless bottom of the second and top of the third, NMMI had runners on first and second. Back to back wild pitches allowed Alejandro Lopez to advance to third and then home, giving the Colts a 3-1 advantage heading into the top of the fourth inning.

In the top of the fourth, the Warriors managed to get another runner into scoring position, but the Colts dodged the bullet, as Ruidoso wasn’t able to bring their player home for the run, despite there being just one out.

In the bottom half, the NMMI offense came through for another pair of runs. With a runner on second, Gavin Maloney started a two out rally, doubling to center field and scoring Barcenas. Andres Bleizeffer then singled on a line drive over second base, scoring Maloney to give the Institute a 5-1 lead.

The Warriors’ final run in the top of the sixth. Maloney struck out the side, but two walks and two errors gifted Ruidoso a single-spot in the stanza.

Joshua Lopez slides safely into home in the fourth inning against Ruidoso.

Maloney got the complete-game victory on the mound, lasting all seven innings, allowing just three hits and two runs while striking out seven.

” We also had coach Greg Maloney calling pitches for his son,  a senior, Gavin and I felt like that was a special moment for both of them,” said Ward.

Both teams will square off again tomorrow at the NMMI Ballpark beginning at 4 P.M. with another pair of games to complete a three-game series.

The Colts were led by Rivera at the plate. He went 2-4.

NMMI high school Corps PT Program takes third in national AMSCUS Fitness Challenge

NMMI’s five finalists for the 2018 AMSCUS Fitness Challenge are pictured along with Strength & Conditioning coaches Daniel Ford (top left) and Tyrell Curtis (top right), and Athletic Director Jose Barron (top center). Second row: cadet Maximo Robles and cadet Marcelo Cantu. Bottom row: cadet Gavin Yates, cadet Mark Pralat, and cadet Peyton Hightower.

NMMI Sports Press

Roswell residents are used to seeing NMMI cadets running through the streets of the town as part of their regular physical fitness programs – often known as ‘Corps PT’.

Physical fitness is one of the three pillars of the Institute’s mission: To educate train, and prepare young men and women to be leaders capable of critical thinking and sound analysis, leaders who possess uncompromising character, and leaders able to meet challenging physical demands.

For cadets not participating in one of NMMI’s 24 sports programs, it can be one of the more challenging pillars to teach and develop.

But the corps PT program garnered some national accolades last February, when the high school won third place in the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States (AMSCUS) first-ever Fitness Challenge.

“NMMI won this award on the merits of the outstanding physical performance of a group of high school students,” said athletic director Jose Barron.

“This was the first time our cadets have participated in this event,” said school president/superintendent Major General Jerry Grizzle.  “And for us to take third place, it shows the overall physical fitness of the corps, particularly at the high school division, and each year we hope to get better.”

Two of NMMI’s cadet finalists were awarded during a quick recognition ceremony prior to a supper at the Bates Mess Hall. Left to right: Strength & Conditioning coach Dan Ford, cadet finalist Maximo Robles, President/Superintendent MG Jerry Grizzle, cadet finalist Marcelo Cantu, Athletic Director Jose Barron.

NMMI competed against about 35 military high schools across the nation. Ten cadets competed in a rigorous three-event challenge: two minutes of push ups; two minutes of sit ups; and a 1.5 mile run, all under the standards mandated by the Coast Guard.

“We test according to the Army standards, typically, and the Coast Guard test is quite different and something that they’re not very used to,” Barron said. “So the fact that our high school students were able to make the adjustment with really no additional training – except for what they received from our overall strength program – shows that we have a high level of fitness in that population.”

The ten NMMI high school cadets who competed were: senior Marcelo Cantu, Coahuila, Mexico; Mark Pralat, Alexandria, Va.; Maximo Robles, Sonora, Mexico; Martin Ahumada, Sinaloa, Mexico; juniors Peyton Hightower, Alamogordo; Gavin Yates, Weatherford, Texas; Felix Adhemur, Sinaloa, Mexico; Alex Lee, Albuquerque; Eliana Ward, Albuquerque; and freshman Luke Anders, Corrales.

The scores from all ten were calculated with the top five scores averaged for NMMI’s final rating.

“It’s an honor for us to place, particularly when we have so many military high schools out there that compete for this,” Barron said. “To be among the most elite, I think validates what we’re doing and it’s a testament to the dedication of our cadets and of our coaches.”

Robles, who was one of the top five finishers and hopes to get an ROTC scholarship for college, said the test was hard but that he used mind over matter to finish.

“I just go after it,” he said. “I try not to associate myself with the pain, but I have to say I’m grateful for all the teachers I’ve had and all the trainers who supported me all the way through.”

Cantu, another top five finisher, played soccer for the Colts in the fall and will head back to Mexico when he’s done at the Institute.

“It’s all about discipline and never giving up, when you think you can’t keep going,” he said. “It’s about discipline and motivation and also exercise and practice. They say ‘practice makes perfect,’ so that’s what I think it was.”

The award also says a lot about NMMI strength and conditioning instructors Daniel Ford and Tyrell Curtis, who set up the training program the cadets participate in three times a week.

“I think that those two do an outstanding job training large groups of cadets,” Barron said. “It is also important to note that the people who train all our varsity athletes, they’re the same ones who are out there in the corps physical fitness program, developing and improving it to help our cadets, even those who are not in athletics.”

“It was pretty cool to see the high school was in the top three, and a lot of credit goes to not just us, but to all of our cadet PT coaches,” Ford said. ‘We have five different things going on at 3:45 p.m. I can only be one place. Coach Curtis can only be one place. We have a lot of PT coaches who help run the program.”

Those coaches include Joseph Strickler and Gavin Yates, who help with the training which varies each day to include push ups, pull ups, a modified row, runinng and ab exercises.

“On a weekly basis we’ll change the stresses we put on them, in terms of rest times, work times and what kind of effort we’re looking for,” Ford said.

“Every day involves some sort of pushup, some sort of situp and an attempt to run,” Curtis said. “The run is the hardest part, and in the test that they took the run was by far the hardest part of the test.”

Every student who’s not on an in-season athletic team, the prep program, or ROTC is required to participate in the corps PT program.

The junior college also competed in the contest. They didn’t fare quite as well as the high school, failing to place in the top 3. But there was a reason for that, Barron said.

“They go up against both four-year and two-year institutions,” he said. “Obviously, our goal is to get up there whether it’s two-year or four-year institutions, but the reality is that the training is a little bit different.”

And all three top finishers in the college contest — Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets; the Citadel; and Norwich University — are four-year schools.

But Barron is sure the Broncos will do better next time.

“I think our college students did very well, they just didn’t place this time,” he said. “I’ll put that challenge to coach Ford and coach Curtis: those two men are very professional and very deliberate in how they set up the program, having taken the program from others in the past and having tweaked the program to the place where it is now.”

And win or lose, Barron was pleased with how the cadets did.

“Testament to our cadets,” he said. “We put in front of them something they had never done. They met the challenge and received accolades for doing so well. I’m proud of those cadets. This is just one small part of what is done to help teach life-long physical fitness, health and wellness. The cadets who take this program seriously gain tremendous benefits from it. Those benefits include not only tangible awards like this, but in many intangibiles that will come to them in the years beyond NMMI.”

Colts blast Eunice in five innings

Andres Bleizeffer throws a pitch in the first inning against Eunice.

NMMI Sports Press

Jake Leible rounds third base and scores a run against Eunice.

The Colt baseball team topped the Eunice Cardinals in a non-district matchup at home on Tuesday evening.

Both teams were hot at the plate as they combined for 26 runs in the game, with NMMI earning 18 of those on 12 hits.

The Cards started off the scoring with a pair of runs in the top of the first on two hits and a walk.

NMMI quickly responded, thanks to a leadoff triple to center field by Francisco Rivera, followed by a Gavin Maloney blast over the fence in right center, making the score 2-2 with just one out in the inning.

After a hit-by-pitch and walk, Gunnar Schwab singled to right center field, scoring Jake Leible and advancing Alejandro Lopez advanced to third.

Up next at the plate was Gus Curnutt. He singled to on a line drive to the shortstop, scoring Schwab and Lopez, making the score 5-2 at the end of the first.

Eunice answered with a three spot in the second, knotting the score at 5s.

Gavin Maloney prepares to swing against a Eunice pitcher in the bottom of the first inning.

In the bottom half, Rivera singled on a line drive to right field and advanced to second

on an error by the right fielder.

Maloney then doubled to center and scored Rivera. He eventually scored on a fielder’s choice by Andres Bleizeffer, who in turn scored after a walk given up to Alejandro Lopez, and another RBI single by Schwab.

NMMI led 8-5 going into the top of the third, but again, Eunice responded with a two run inning cutting the lead to just one, 8-7.

NMMI’s next run came after a Cardinal error, two consecutive walks and a hit by pitch. Then with two on, Lopez smacked an opposite-field triple, scoring Alejandro Barcenas and Maloney. Lopez later crossed the plate on a wild pitch to give the Institute a 12-7 advantage at the end of three.

Francisco Rivera throws a runner out at first in the top of the third inning.

In the top of the fourth, Eunice was set down in order for the only three-up, three-down half inning in the game.

The Colts exploded for five hits and six runs in the bottom of the fourth, setting the stage for the run-rule victory, up 18-7.

The Cards did manage one final run in the top of the fifth, but couldn’t bring another runner in from third to extend the game.

Bleizeffer got the win for the Institute bringing his record to 2-0 on the year. He threw two innings, gave up five runs on five hits. Lopez pitched the next 2.2 for the hold, allowing two hits and three runs (two of which were earned). Luke Taylor took the mound for the final out, allowing a single hit and no runs.

Schwab, Lopez, Curnutt, Rivera, and Maloney all managed multiple hits for NMMI, with Schwab going 3-for-4 at the plate to lead the Colts in hits

Up next for NMMI is District 4-4A opponent Ruidoso. The three-game, two-day series will be held at NMMI on the 12th and 13th of April. The first pitch for both days is scheduled for 4:00 PM, with a single game slated on Thursday and a doubleheader on Friday.

NMJC takes two from NMMI

Cedric Reynaud frames a pitch against NMJC on Saturday.

NMMI Sports Press

The Bronco baseball team finished off their four-game Western Junior College Athletic Conference series versus New Mexico Junior College with a pair of losses on Saturday, dropping Game 1 by a score of 2-0 and Game 2, 13-7.


Paulo Rodriguez throws a T-Bird runner our at first in Game 1.

In the opener, NMMI’s Gerry Lerma Jr. and NMJC’s Carlos Ortiz battled back and forth in a scoreless pitcher’s duel, but a late two-run homerun in the top of the 7th inning by the T-Birds gave visiting NMJC the win.

Carlos Ortiz was the winning pitcher for NMJC. He surrendered zero runs on six hits over seven innings, striking out nine.

Lerma Jr. took the loss for the Broncos. He lasted seven innings, allowing seven hits and two runs while striking out four and didn’t surrender a walk.

The Broncos scattered six hits in the game. Angel Colon Aviles and Miguel Soto all collected multiple hits for the Institute.

Game 2 started off very different for the Broncos.

Zack Gonzalez watches his pitch cross the plate in Game 2 against NMJC.

Colon began the bottom of the 1st with a single on hard hit ball to center field and the next batter, Miguel Soto, was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second.

Bobby Galindo then connected on a pitch that cleared the Desert Sun sponsored scoreboard in right field to give NMMI a 3-0 lead heading into the top of the second.

The next inning, after again holding NMJC without a run, Colon doubled on a line drive to center scoring Estevan De La O and Palo Rodriguez – who both walked – making the score 5-0 at the end of the second inning.

After a scoreless third, the T-Birds responded with two runs on two hits in the top of the fourth bringing the score to 5-2.

NMMI immediately answered with two runs in the bottom half. Galindo singled, which scored Colon and Adam Abeyta hit an RBI double, scoring Galindo.

The Institute held that lead, 7-2, heading into the top of the fifth.

Gerry Lerma Jr. prepares to throw a pitch against NMJC in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Saturday.

Unfortunately for the Broncos, the T-Birds bats came alive. NMJC scored 11 runs in the last four innings, including a seven-spot in the top of the seventh, allowing the T-Birds the victory.

Up next for NMMI is WJCAC opponent Howard College. This two-day series will be held at Howard College on the 13th and 14th of April. Start times for both days’ doubleheaders are scheduled for 12 pm.