Article Written by: Jason Farmer NEWS-SUN
Photo Taken by: Tony Baker NMTXsports.com
The New Mexico Junior college baseball team split its doubleheader with Frank Phillips College Saturday, dropping the opener 3-2 and then takeing the nightcap 9-1. the opening game loss snapped a seven game winning streak, but the thunderbirds quickly got back in the win column in the nightcap.
New Mexico Junior College had even fewer hits in the nightcapt (five), than it did in the opener (six), but the T-Birds made them count in the second game. The T-Birds had three extra-base hits, a pair of doubles and a home run.
Jesse Becton crushed a two-run homer for NMJC in the bottom of the second to give NMJC the early lead. The T-Birds then scored three times in the bottom of the fifth, pushing their lead to 5-0. Frank Phillips College scored once in the top of the sixth, but NMJC answered back with three more runs in the bottom of the frame. The T-Birds got their final run in the bottom of the seventh.
Ryan Rijo had one hit, but it was a big one as the T-Birds' first baseman picked up three RBI on bases loaded doubled for NMJC. Chase Whetsel was 0-for-2 with a walk, a stolen base, and scored twice. Becton finished the game 1-for-3 with a walk, two RBI, and two runs scored. Eddy Vasquez also scored a pair of runs and knocked in one.
Brian Archibald started the game and went the distance for NMJC. Archibald struck out 11 while limiting Frank Phillips College to four hits, one of which was a home run.
The Frank Phillips College pitching held NMJC in check during the first game. Zach Davila pitched a complete game to beat the T-Birds. Of the 21 batters Davila retired, seven came on the ground and eight came in the air. Davila also stuck out five.
"i give him credit, he pitched well," thunderds' skipper Jimmy Durham ssaid. "He threw strikes and located well. He got a lot of ground balls and fly balls and that is what baseball is all about."
The T-Birds managed just four hits in the first six innings and three of thos came with two outs. NMJC only got the leadoff runner on base once, and the runner was thrown out trying to steal second.
"We didn't make many adjustments at the plate and that really hurt us," Leitha said. "(Zach Davila) executed really well on the outer part of the plate. When we got our four hits, it was with two pouts every time except for one. It is just hard to score in that situation."
Alex Pinedo started the game, threw 96 pitches, and was charged with the loss. the T-Birds' left-hander allowed eight hits and one walk over six innings of work. Pinedo allowed three runs, all coming in the fith, and struck out eight.
"He kept us in the game," Durham said. "That is all you can ask for."
Heading into the bottom of the seventh NMJC trailed 3-0. colton Buckner struck out looking to start the inning, but Jake Dickerson quickly followed with a double two pitches later. Rodrigo Avina flew out to center, but the ball was hit deep enough that Dickerson was able to tag up and take third. Dickerson quickly followed with a doubel two pitches later. Rodrigo Avina flew out to center, but the ball was hit deep enough that Dickerson was able to tag up and take third. Dickeroson wasnt on third very long though. Two pitches into his at bat, Larry Leitha belted a home run to centerfield, getting the T-Birds within one run of Frank Phillips College.
"They always battle back," Durham said. "there is something about them that they never quitoffensively. They did not swing it real good today,but we hit some balls hard and hit balls right at them. The wind was not blowing so you have got to play straight up baseball."
The T-Birds centerfielder didnt go up to the plate planning to hit a home run.
"In a situation with two out, just somehting that you can drive," Leitha said. "No one ever wants to be that third out of the game, that is kind of tough. You want a fastball and when you get i, you have got to crush it. You want something you can hit. If you line out, that is better than striking out."
The T-Birds' skipper sent Becton in to pinch-hit and the NMJC slugger worked a seven-pitch walk. Unfortunately, the game came to an end witht the next batter as Eddy Vasquez grounded into a fielders choice.
While the T-Birds managed just six hits in the game, five of them went for extra bases. Leitha and Chase Whetsel led the T-Birds' offense. Leitha was 2-for-3 a double. Tyan Rijo and Dickerson also had doulbles for the T-Birds while NMJC's only single came off the bat of Whetsel. Becton worked the only walk of the gaem for NMJC.
With the split, NMJC is now 22-19on the season and 16-8 in WJCAC play. the TBirds will be back in action Tuesday for a non-conference game when Howard College visits Ray Birmingham field.