Article Written by: Jason Farmer NEWS-SUN
Photo Taken by: Tony Baker NMTXsports.com
The New Mexico Junior College baseball team had a chance to move up in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference standings Saturday, unfortunately the Thunderbirds were unable to do so, losing both gaemes of a doubleheader to Howard College the T-Birds lost the opener 7-4 in walkoff fashion and then lost the nightcap 9-8 the same way.
In the first game, NMJC had a lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, however, the T-Birds' bullpen couldn't hold it.
The T-Birds trailed 2-0 entering the top of the sixth, but by the time the inning was over, the T-Birds led 4-2. Howard got one run back in the bottom of the frame, but the T-birds still led 4-3 entering the seventh.
New Mexico Junior College failed to score any insurance runs in the top of the seventh, so it went into the bottom of the frame needing three outs to secure the win. That didn't happen though Howard scored four times to beat the T-Birds in walkoff fashion.
Howard College got the winning run on a two-out, three-run home run off the bat of Mason Peterson.
The T-Birds had five hits in the game, two for extra bases. No one had multiple hits. Chase Whetsel and Tyan Rijo each had doubles. Rijo was 1-for-2 with a double, a run scored, two runs batted in, and a walk. Rodrigo Avina was 1-for-3 with two RBI. Whetsel scored once, as did Colton Buckner and Eddy Vasquez.
On the mound, Alex Pinedo got the start and left after 5.1 innings of work with a 4-3 lead. Pinedo allowed five hits and walked five while striking out seven. Larry Leitha got the loss, pitching the final 1.1 innings of work. Leitha allowed four runs, all of which were unearned, on three hits and a walk. He also struck out one.
In the second game, NMJC and Howard College traded the lead early on. The T-Birds scored first plating one run in the top of the second. The Hawks scored twice in the boottom of the third to take the lead. NMJC retook the lead when it countered with two of its own in the top of the fourth. However, the Hawks responded with a four-spot in the bottom of the fourth, going up 6-3.
New Mexico Junior College scored once in the top of the sixth while Howard College added a run in the bottom of the eight. the T-Birds then retook the lead in the top of the ninth, scoring four times. However, NMJC couldn't hold the lead, allowing Howard to score twice in the bottom of the thr frame to beat the T-Birds.
Levi Dixon, Vasquez, and Gavin Johnson all went 2-for-4 for NMJC. Dixon had a pair of singles while Vasquez drove in three runs. Johnson had one run and an RBI for the T-Birds. Leitha had just one hit, a home run, while aslo driving in three and scoring twice.
Ethan Franklin started the game and didn't make it out of the fourth. Franklin allowed 10 hits and walked one while giving up six runs. He also struck out one. Gerardo Duarte pitched 4.1 inings in relief, giving up just one unearned run. Duarte struck out four while walking two and allowing three hits.
Braden Holub was tagged with the loss. Holub pitched one-third of an inning. He allowed two hits and two runs, though only one was earned.
With the sweep, NMJC's 13 game winning streak comes to an end. the T-Birds finish the regular season 34-21 overall and 26-10 in WJCAC play. NMJC finishes this year third in the conference. Odessa (29-7) swept its four game series with Midland College to take firsth while Midland (27-9) finished second. Howard College (25-11) finished fourth.