Article Written by: Jason Farmer NEWS-SUN
Photo Taken by: Tony Baker NMTXsports.com
The New Mexico Junior College baseball team came in its doubleheader with Howard College Friday needing to win both games. The Thunderbirds were in third place in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference, one game ahead of Howard College in the win column and one game back of Odessa College for second place in the loss column.
The T-Birds won both games, taking the opener 4-3 and the nightcap 10-2. The sweep allowed NMJC to keep the pace with Odessa, which swept WJCAC leader Midland College. Heading into the final games of the regular season today, NMJC is 26-8 in WJCAC play, good for third. Odessa and Midland College are tied for first at 27-7.
In the opener, the T-Birds had to battle back from an early deficit. NMJC fell behind 2-0 in the top of the second. the T-Birds got one run back in the bottom of the frame, but Howard College hit a monster home run in the fourth to re-establish its two-run lead.
"That was missile," NMJC starting pitcher Brian Archibald said of the home run he allowed. "I found a way. My stretch wasn't the best today. I had to speed up today because those guys are fast."
That's where the score stayed until the bottom of the fifth when NMJC got back within one. In the bottom of the sixth, NMJC finally took a lead.
Levi Dixon started the inning with a single and moved to second when Eddy Vasquez walked, Riley Peterson then moved both runners up 90-feet with a sacrifice bunt. With a base open, Howard had the chance to walk Chase Whetsel, but didn't and the T-Birds left fielder made the Hawks pay.
"(Howard) was going to face twom more left handed bats not matter what," Durham said. "Both guys they threw today, threw really good changeups and that is tought on a lefthander, but that makes them have to throw it. I was comfortable with whatever left hander came up and Chase did a good job."
Durham's fiath in Whesel was quickly rewarded as he singled, scoring Dixon and Casquez, giving NMJC a 4-3 lead.
"That kid, he has been swinging it really well," Durham said. "He threw strikes and had one inning where he kind of struggled and we didn;t capitalize on that inning."
Brian Archibald got the start and picked up the win. Archibald pitched six innings, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out five.
"I didn't have my best stuff today, but I found a way to fight throught it," Archibald said. "I knew my teammates would come through at the end. Our bats are going right now and I figured we would come out on top like we did."
Dylan Bein, the T-Birds' regular game one starter came on in relief and pitched the seventh. Bein retired a the side in order, including striking out the final batter looking to record the save.
In the nightcap, the Hawks got on the board first, plating a run in the top of the first.NMJC tied the game in the bottom of the second. The game remained tied until the fifth with the T-Birds scored five times. Howard scored twice in the sixth and once in the seventh, butting NMJC's lead to 6-4, but that was as close as the Hawks would get.
Whetsel capped the T-Birds' win with a grand slam in the eighth, pushing NMJC's lead to 10-4.
ColtonBuckner also homered in the game while Whetsel and Levi Dixon each had a triple.Rijo drove in two runs while Vasquez scored twice, as did Peterson and Whetsel.
Anthony Montoya started the game and got the win. Montoya pitched 5.2 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and seven walks. Montoya struck out three runs on three hits and seven walks. Montoya struck out three. Luke Manuel pitched 1.1 pinnings in relief and allowed one run on three hits and a walk. He struck out one. Braeden Holub threw the final tow innings. Holub struck out two and walked one while picking up the save.
With the sweep, NMJC improves to 34-19 for the season. the T-Birds have now won 13 straight games. The series concludes today with another doubleheader against Howard College, only this time it will be played in Big Spring, Texas.