Category Archives: Athletics

NMMI bats, pitching combine to sweep Luna

The Game-2 winning swing by NMMI’s Alex Howard. Howard hit this pitch into deep left center with bases loaded, one out, in the bottom of the 10th, resulting in a sac fly scoring Colby Brown for the winning run.

The Game-2 winning swing by NMMI’s Alex Howard. Howard hit this pitch into deep left center with bases loaded, one out, in the bottom of the 10th, resulting in a sac fly scoring Colby Brown for the winning run.

Karen Boehler
NMMI Sports Press

NMMI's Preston Inman had a clutch extra base hit in the second inning of Game 1, bringing in two Bronco runs.

NMMI’s Preston Inman had a clutch extra base hit in the second inning of Game 1, bringing in two Bronco runs.

The Bronco baseball team swept conference foe Luna Community College Friday and Saturday, the first time in the NMMI team’s history they ever took four straight from a WJCAC opponent. In the process, the Institute set several school records, getting the most conference wins (13, with eight more games to go) and wins against junior colleges in a season. (The 20-22 record is not the best overall, but many years NMMI played four-year JV teams in non-conference play.) Coach Chris Cook also thinks the total number of wins by the starting pitchers are more than ever in school history.

“It’s awesome, because there’s never, ever an easy weekend, no matter how Day 1 goes or Day 2,” he said. “Every game’s different. We knew coming in Luna could hit. They have a good offense that’s really scrappy and they play hard.”

NMMI's Chad Smith took over for Anthony Martinez in the top of the 10th inning. He gave up one run, but the Bronco bats posted two in the bottom half to get Smith the win.

NMMI’s Chad Smith took over for Anthony Martinez in the top of the 10th inning. He gave up one run, but the Bronco bats posted two in the bottom half to get Smith the win.

While Friday’s games were both easy mercy-rule victories (14-4 and 13-5, with Drew Spinnenweber and Kevin Piersol getting the wins), Saturday’s were down-to-the wire nail biters, 7-6 in both games, with the nightcap coming down to a walk-off sacrifice bunt by Game 1 pitcher Alex Howard.

“The key today was getting into their bullpen, and we didn’t do that,” Cook said. “We did that yesterday, got into their pen. We didn’t see their pen today until late innings. Credit to their pitchers, they didn’t walk us very much, especially Game 2, so it was tougher to manufacture runs. We did hit some balls hard, up into the wind and just didn’t get anything out of it. We kind of had to manufacture (runs.)”

The Bronco team celebration at first base around Alex Howard, after his walk-off sac fly in game two.

The Bronco team celebration at first base around Alex Howard, after his walk-off sac fly in game two.

The Broncos took an early 5-0 lead over the Roughriders in the second inning of the opener, getting six hits that started with a triple by Joe Galindo and ended with a Joe Inman double. The inning saw some controversy, as Luna coach Antonio Siqueiros argued vehemently that Inman had struck out on what the officials ruled was a foul ball. Siqueiros was tossed for his antics, and INman came back with the double on the next pitch.

But Luna starter Alexander Goodman bore down after that, holding NMMI to solo runs in the third and fourth.

NMMI's Chris Foster standing safe atop second base. Foster had a great series vs. the Roughriders, going .667 at the plate with 10 hits, 8 RBIs, and seven runs scored.

NMMI’s Chris Foster standing safe atop second base. Foster had a great series vs. the Roughriders, going .667 at the plate with 10 hits, 8 RBIs, and seven runs scored.

NMMI starter Howard allowed runners on base through the first three innings, but only one one came in. In the fourth, however, the Roughriders scored four runs on four hits and a hit batter, closing to 5-6. The Broncos added an insurance run in the bottom of the stanza, and held that two-run edge until the sixth, when Kody Jones relieved Howard, getting two outs but loading the bases on three walks, a hit batter and an RBI single.

Ruger Rodriguez replaced Jones, getting out of the inning on two pitches, then setting Luna down 1-2-3 in the seventh to earn the save.

Offensively, Galindo led the Broncos, going 2-for-2 with two runs scored. Colby Brown was 2-for-3 with one run, and both Marion McLean and Inman were 2-for-4 with doubles, with Inman picking 2 RBIs and Galindo two runs.

Jones got the win, striking out five and walking none, while Alexander, who went the distance, got the loss.

NMMI's game two starting pitcher Anthony Martinez on the mound with a runner on first. Martinez went nine complete innings with seven strikeouts, but no decision.

NMMI’s game two starting pitcher Anthony Martinez on the mound with a runner on first. Martinez went nine complete innings with seven strikeouts, but no decision.

Game 2 started out on a positive note for the Institute, as they scored three runs in the bottom of the first on three runs, including doubles by McLean and Galindo. But NMMI could only muster two more runs through the next eight innings, scoring one in the third when Chris Foster singled and came around to score; and one in the fourth, when Howard doubled and came home on a Foster single.

The Roughriders tied it in the third when they put up a three-spot against starter Anthony Martinez — a two-run homer by Anthony Acevedo the big blow — added one more in the sixth then tied it in the seventh on a two out, RBI double.

Neither team could add anything else through regulation, as Martinez — who went the full nine innings — allowed no further runs. A pair of Luna relievers shut the Broncos down, and after both teams put one runner on base but failed to score in the ninth, the game went into extra innings.

Chad Smith relieved Martinez in the 10th, putting the Roughriders up 6-5 on two hits and a walk. But in the bottom of the stanza, Brad Blackwell walked, advanced on a single by Brown and scored on an error, tying it at 6-6. A wild pitch put runners at second and third then McLean was intentionally walked, loading the bases and, with only one out, Howard hit a sacrifice fly that scored Brown and started the Bronco celebration.

“We did hit some balls hard, up into the wind and just didn’t get anything out of it,” Cook said. “We kind of had to manufacture (runs.) It’s the first time all year we’ve put up a slash/hit-and-run on, and we executed it and it put us in scoring position in that final inning. And we still had to battle; find a way to score. But still extremely proud of the guys.”

With the win coming in the 10th, Smith got the win and Martinez a no decision, which had to be somewhat bittersweet for the freshman, who struck out seven and walked none.

On offense, Foster was 4-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. Welch and Howard were 2-for-5, with Howard scoring two runs and getting an RBI.

“We had several guys with significant RBI totals on the weekend,” Cook said. “We hit over .500 yesterday. We didn’t do that today, but still had our share of hits.”

The victories move the Broncos ahead of Luna in the WJCAC, with eight games remaining. Three teams — New Mexico Junior College, Howard and Odessa — have sewn up the top three post-season slots. But with road games remaining against Midland and Frank Phillips College — both of which only lead NMMI by a few games in the standings — the fourth-place slot is up for grabs.

“We’re not out of it,” Cook said. “We’re at a point now where we probably need some help from somebody else. But both the teams ahead of us are still on our schedule, so yes, we have some control of that. We’re going to try to take it one game at a time, just like the old cliche. Midland’s a tough team, and it’s going to be tough on the road, but at least we have a chance, and that’s all we can ask for this late in the season.”

Broncos drop two, but bats come alive

Karen Boehler
NMMI Sports Press

The final scores in Friday’s WJCAC baseball doubleheader at NMMI were more reminiscent of football finales than America’s pastime, but despite falling twice to New Mexico Junior College — 25-10 and 16-12 — the Broncos led in each game and forced the nightcap into extra innings.

“We had a chance to win both games, against probably the best team in the league, and just weren’t able to close it out,” said Institute coach Chris Cook.

In the opener, after ace Drew Spinnenweber shut the Thunderbirds down in the top of the first, the Broncos opened their half of the stanza with a single by freshman Marion McLean and a first-pitch home run over the left-field fence by Chris Foster.

NMMI went on to score four runs in the stanza, then tied it at 7-7 in the bottom of the third and went up 10-7 in the fifth. The seven runs Spinnenweber allowed drove him from the mound in the fourth, and reliever Chad Smith did a good job through five, but he — and Bronco errors — allowed two runs in the sixth, and Kody Jones and Ruger Rodriguez gave up eight more runs in the sixth. Ragan Cole allowed an additional eight  in the seventh, but to the pitchers’ credit, only eight of the 25 runs were earned, with seven errors adding to the loss.

The Institute batters were the highlight of both games. In the opener, every starter but Alex Howard — who made up for it in Game 2 — got a hit. Colby Brown was 3-for-3 with a double, 4 RBIs and one run scored; Winston Welch 1-for-1 with two runs and an RBI; and Joe Galindo 2-for-4 with two runs.

The bad news was they left seven runners on base, and the NMJC batters had 22 hits in the game, including six home runs — two by shortstop Branden Grieger — and a double.

“We hit better than we had the past three weeks,” Cook said. “We just didn’t pitch consistently. We left a few runners out there in scoring position that we didn’t drive in early in the game. And there were a few mistakes defensively, but it was a day that everybody was going to score runs. We just left a few too many runs out there early, and we paid the price late in the game. The pitchers didn’t get deep enough in the game, so the bullpen kind of got depleted, with the doubleheader tomorrow.”

Game 2 started out at a much faster pace. The first scoring came in the second when Howard hit a no-count shot over the left-field fence to make it 1-0 NMMI.

Bronco starter Kevin Piersol kept the T-Birds scoreless through 5-1/3 when NMJC went up 3-1. He got the first two batters in the sixth, but after walking a batter and hitting another, he was replaced by Jones, who allowed an RBI single.

NMMI just missed tying the game in the bottom of the stanza, but closed the gap to 4-3 when Galindo reached on a throwing error, went to second on a Howard single and scored on a second Thunderbird error.

NMJC came back big in the seventh, scoring five runs on two hits, including a three-run home run off reliever Devin Hubbard, and three more in the eighth, with a two-run dinger adding to the damage.

But the Broncos came back with six big runs in the bottom of the seventh to trail 9-8, then, after giving up three more runs in the top of the eighth, reliever Franky Silva shut the ’Birds down in the ninth, and the Institute had a big bottom of the inning. They scored four runs on two hits, two walks and two errors, but couldn’t manage the one more run that would have ended the game.

The Thunderbirds then came back with four in the top of the 10th, and after three quick outs in the bottom of the inning, got the second-game victory.

NMMI added 15 more hits in Game 2. McLean, Preston Inman and Howard were each 3-for-6, with McLean getting a triple, 3 RBI and two runs; Inman one run and Howard two runs and an RBI. Colby was 2-for-5 with one run and two RBI. Defensively, NMMI made only one error in Game 2.

“The guys put a lot of work in trying to get their approaches back, and got some swings in, so we had a pretty good offensive showing today against a team that hasn’t been hit that well all year,” Cook said. “Like I said, they’re probably the best team in the league. So I’m not disappointed in how many runs the guys scored and how the guys are swinging it. We’ve got to find a way to minimize innings better on the mound and defensively,and we’ve got to make sure we score every run we can. We left a couple of runs out there.”

The Broncos travel to Hobbs Saturday, where, Cook said, they’ll do the best with the pitching they’ve got left.

“We’ll wake up in the morning and figure it out,” he said. “I think Alex Howard’s going to start the first game of the double header, and we’ll see what’s left for Game 4. We’ll try to do everything we can to win Game 1 tomorrow and we’ll see what happens Game 2.”

Colts earn second straight tourney title Saturday

Karen Boehler
NMMI Sports Press

There may have been an error or three, along with some running mistakes, but all that was in the rear-view mirror Saturday evening as NMMI won its own Sertoma Colt Baseball Classic with a 7-2 victory over defending champion Texico.

It was the sixth-straight win for the 7-2 Colts, and the second tournament championship in a row.

“This is the first time in the 17, 18 years I’ve been here that we’ve won two tournaments in a row,” said Colt coach Charlie Ward. “We’re excited to be 7-2. We were realistic and thought we’d be 5-5, but the team came through, making plays.”

The victory wasn’t as lopsided as when the Institute topped the Wolverines in the opening round of the Hal Bogle Tournament, but it was still decisive, with Michael Hinojos and Mateo Fierro — who pitched two days in a row — again combining for the tourney title.

Hinojos went six full innings, and was in trouble every one, but good fielding behind the sophomore left 12 Texico runners on base, with only one runner coming home in the fifth. Fierro gave up the second run in the top of the seventh, but the Wolverines left one more runner on base as Fierro struck out the final batter for the victory.

Offensively, the Colts left two runners on base in the first, but drew blood in the second when Jake Guerrero reached on an error, advanced to third on a sac bunt by Teryn Surratt then came home on a single by Jake Tingwall. Tingwall came around on a wild pitch by Texico starter Tanner Dickerman and a pair of errors that saw Peter DeGroot and Francisco Galvez reach base. Galvez was caught off base base for the second out, but DeGroot stole second and came home on a single by Danny Jaramillo.

The Colts added another three runs in the third, getting hits from Gavin Maloney, Hinojos, Guerrero and Tingwall. NMMI drove Dickerson from the mound after two runs had scored, and reliever Nathan Phipps did a better job with the Colt hitters, allowing only one run to score in the third and one final run in the fifth, when Guerrero reached on a fielder’s choice and courtesy runner Frank Marche scored on an error.

Tingwall was a perfect 2-for-2 on the night, with one run scored and 2 RBIs. Hinojos not only got the win, but was 2-for-3 with a double, while Jaramillo and Gavin Maloney were each 2-for-4 with one run scored. Maloney scored a run and Jaramillo had an RBI.

DeGroot and Guerrero were named to the all-tournament team, with Hinojos receiving the MVP trophy.

The victory wraps up the high school pre-season, with the Colts getting a week off for spring break before diving right into district with a home DH vs. Portales. And while the move into Class 4A will be tough, Ward agrees the tournament wins will give his mostly young squad confidence.

“It will,” he said. “And I’m very proud of them. It’s all about the team. I care about the team. I care about what we do as a team. The little things. We always talk about the little things. We’ve still got to get better, but I want them to celebrate, enjoy their family. It’s all about their family. So much family support for these kids.”

Ward extended thanks to everyone who helped run the successful tournament, from the coaches to the NMMI staff to the area businesses — in particular “Steve Greene, the Ice House machine. He donated bags, every day for three days, for the coolers, injuries, concessions” — who supplied food and drink to the families.

“I want to thank NMMI, the school, the faculty, (athletic director) Jose (Barron), for supporting us. Everything he does. We can’t do anything without NMMI,” he said, adding in everyone who worked the press box announcing, keeping stats and running the scoreboard. “The physical plant. Everything they do to get this field ready. I want kudos for all our parents. Our great parents. Mrs. Guerrero, our team mom. They fed them the first two days, Thursday, Friday, and more parents are feeding them tonight. So they’re great parents. Field crew: Doug DeGroot, Mike Guerrero. The coaching staff. We can’t do this without a team. You know that. It takes a team. If I missed any names I want to apologize, but I want to thank all the parents. We can’t do it without our parent support. They know coach Ward is a tough son-of-a-gun, but we thank everybody that helped especially Sertoma and kudos to everybody else who’s involved.”

At the championship award ceremony, the Sertoma Club surprised Ward with a plaque honoring his many years of putting on the tournament, and he gave them credit right back.

“I appreciate Sertoma, and I told them I’m just one part of the puzzle. We can’t do it without Sertoma. Those men are great. They put in a lot of time, and it’s all volunteer work and they do it for the community so I thank Sertoma. I’ve enjoyed these last 17, 18 years with them. They’re great guys. I love talking baseball with them. I appreciate Sertoma for everything they’ve done for us.”

In the game for third place, Dexter easily outlasted Tularosa 11-1, while Santa Rosa topped Hatch Valley 7-3 for the consolation title.

NMMI headed to Sertoma Colt championship

Karen Boehler
Record Correspondant

The Colts have a five-game winning streak and are headed to their second championship game in as many weeks, but it was a much tougher game vs. Tularosa Friday at the Sertoma Colt Classic than it was against the Wildcats in the semifinals of the Hal Bogle Tournament.

Tulie led twice in the game, and with starting pitcher Gavin Maloney just a little bit off, it took something from everyone else — including reliever Mateo Fierro — to get the 15-6 victory, which was a lot closer than the score showed.

“I told the team, Gavin didn’t have his best stuff, but he gave us everything,” said coach CHarlie Ward. “A lot of heart. A lot of fight, and when he doesn’t have his best stuff, that means the team’s got to step up. And they did. Mattie came through and Mattie got the win because it was a tie when he came in. That’s a tough break (for Maloney), but congratulations to Mattie on the win.”

The game went back and forth through the first five innings.

Tularosa went up 1-0 in the first, then the Colts came back to make it 2-0 in the bottom of the stanza. The ’Cats added another two in the top of the third, but the Institute came back with two in the bottom of the stanza, and one each in the third and fourth, to lead 6-3 heading into the fifth.

But it was Tulie’s turn to score big in the top of the inning. Maloney hit the first batter he faced in the inning then gave up a triple to designated hitter Sean Kernahan, adding one Wildcat run. Fierro came in to pitch, and while two errors, a hit batsman and a single brought in two more runners, Fierro got out of the inning without any further damage, leaving it tied at 6-6

NMMI came back in the bottom of the stanza and started making it look a bit like the DExter semifinal, which the Colts won on a 13-run fifth inning. With one out, Michael Hinojos singled, pinch hitter Eli Aguilar was hit and after both advanced on a passed ball, pinch hitter Teryn Surratt scored HInojos on a fielder’s choice and an error that saw him reach base.

Francisco Galvez then walked, but when Peter DeGroot struck out, things looked a lot more grim. But Fierro helped his own cause with a single that scored three runners and got him to third on a pair of Tularosa errors. The inning ended when Haden Maloney was called out on batter interference, but the damage was done.

The Colts led 10-6, and never trailed again.

Fierro only allowed one more Wildcat hit in the final two innings, and although a running mistake by NMMI sent the game to the full seven innings — holding off the mercy rule by one run — the Colts added another five runs in the bottom of the sixth.

The Colts only had nine hits in the game, but they took advantage of eight Tularosa errors and managed to make their four not too costly.

“They’re finding ways to win,” Ward said. “Not pretty defensively, but we scored in every inning. Those are called crooked numbers. You say you want to get a crooked number every time in each inning, so that’s a very big positive for us to do that.”

DeGroot and Fierro led the way offensively, going 2-for-4 with one run scored each. DeGroot had 3 RBIs and Fierro one. No one else had more than one hit, but Galvez scored three times and Surratt scored twice with 3 RBIs off the bench.

On the mound, Fierro got the win, allowing no runs on two hits, two walks and three strikeouts in 2-1/3 innings. Maloney went 4-1/.3, giving up six runs, three earned, on five hits and four walks. He struck out seven.

The Colts will square off against defending Sertoma champ Texico, a team they defeated handily in the opening round of the Hal Bogle Tournament. Ward doesn’t think it will be nearly as easy Saturday.

“Everybody’s mentally tired,” he said. “It’s spring break. They just got out today. These kids, they’re excited about leaving NMMI for nine days, but you know what? We’re in the championship. Texico won last year. We won it the year before so it’s going to be a great championship.”

And what about the big win in Dexter?

“Yeah, we know, but anything can happen,” Ward said. “That’s just baseball and it won’t be a big margin this time. They’ll throw their whatever. We’ll throw Michael Hinojos tomorrow night. We’ve got a great chance with him, but it still takes the team doing their jobs and getting better. We’re trying to get better, but hey, 6-2 with five wins in a row, you can’t beat that.”

Colts dominate Capitan in Sertoma nightcap

Karen Boehler
NMMI Sports Press

NMMI wrapped up Day 1 of the Roswell Sertoma Colt Baseball Classic with the fourth 10-run game of the tourney, topping Capitan 11-1 to advance to Friday’s semifinals.

The Colts came out hitting hard and never let up.

“Pleased with that,” said Institute coach Charlie Ward. “Putting the ball (in play.) Hitting the ball hard. Some of us had some poor at-bat situations. Didn’t sit back. Didn’t keep the weight at the front side and that’s a little frustrating, but they’re kids and they’re competing and we’re just trying to get better as a team.”

While pitcher Haden Maloney was throwing a one-hit, five-inning complete game — he struck out seven, walked none and the only run was unearned — the Colts bats were solid, sending nine runners to the plate in the first.

Peter DeGroot singled and stole second, then scored on a single by Danny Jaramillo. Jaramillo then stole second — one of nine thefts for the Colts in the game — advancing on a ground out by Maloney.

The game then paused briefly for what appeared to be an injury to Tiger starter Price Bowen, who left the game cradling his elbow. Reliever Dominic Salcido didn’t have any better luck slowing down the NMMI bats, walking Gavin Maloney and Jake Guerrero, and giving up three runs on wild pitches.

Evan Sabo then came in, and, after a walk and a balk, got out of the inning with a line out and strike out. Still, the early damage was done, as the Colts led 4-0.

NMMI added two more runs in each of the next three innings, but after Capitan got their lone run in the top of the fourth — scoring on a single by eighth-grader John Rogers, one of three eighth getting a second chance graders on the team, a fielder’s choice and a misplayed grounder — they had to play one final inning to win by the mercy rule.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Jaramillo reached on an error and stole second. Both Haden and Gavin Maloney walked and, with pinch hitter Ryan Dement at the plate, the left fielder scored his second run of the game on a wild pitch.

Colt second baseman Michael Hinojos was perfect at the plate, going 2-for-2 with one RBI and one run scored. Both DeGroot and Jaramillo were 2-for-4 — Jaramillo scoring two runs and RBIs, and Degroot three runs — while pinch hitter Ian Curnutt was 1-for-1 with a big 2 RBI triple.

“We just hit the ball at the right times and Ian Curnutt came in at the right time, got his two RBIs,” Ward said. “It’s just about the team. I care about them doing the little things right.”

And while the Colts did make one error and had a running mistake, Ward is seeing improvement.

“We’re getting better. Our base running’s getting better,” he said. “Francisco (Galvan) showed some poor judgement at third base and he got called out, and he’s got to do a better job because they can’t do that. They know it’s unacceptable in my book. So we’ve got to play better. But you know what? We got a W today. We had four great games; tomorrow’s going to be another four.”

Friday’s four games start at 10 a.m. with Gateway facing off against Hatch Valley, which fell to Texico 17-2. Capitan will square off against Santa Rosa at 1:30 p.m., with Dexter taking on Texico at 3 p.m. and NMMI repeating a semi-final matchup vs. Tularosa at 6 p.m.

“Now we’re on a four-game winning streak, which is exciting, but now we have a chance to be in the semis against Tulie, somebody we saw in the Dexter semis,” Ward said. “It’s going to be an excellent ballgame. They’re improving. … They’re going to have one of their better pitchers. We’re going to have Gavin Maloney, who’s a good one, too. We expect good things out of Gavin, the team’s just got to do good things, too.”