JASON FARMER/NEWS-SUN Ty Stephenson pitches for NMJC Friday during the first game of a doubleheader against NMMI. Stephenson got the win as NMJC won 8-4 at Ray Birmingham Field.
While New Mexico Junior College skipper Jimmy Durham was not happy with the way his team played Friday, he was pleased that the Thunderbirds managed to win both games of a doubleheader against New Mexico Military Institute at Ray Birmingham Field. The T-Birds battled back in both games, winning the opener 8-4 and the nightcap 9-6.
"Honestly, we didn't play very good," Durham said. "I was a little frustrated and disappointed with the way we played. I am very happy for the wins, but we just didn't play that well today."
With the sweep, NMJC improves to 25-10 on the season and 12-6 in Western Junior College Athletic Conference action. The T-Birds will be in Roswell today to complete their four game series against the Broncos.
Despite neither starting pitcher made it out of the third inning for NMJC, Durham was pleased with how the bullpen responded and was able to pitch well enough for the T-Birds to get a pair of wins.
"Our bullpen really was good today," Durham said. "Both (Ty) Stephenson and (Cade) Acrey (in the first game) and in the second game, Mark Barillas came in and threw really well. … Our bullpen saved us today."
The T-Birds fell behind 2-0 in the first game, but battled back with five runs between the third and fifth innings to take the lead. The T-Birds took the lead on Joab Gonzalez's three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth. NMJC scored once in the fifth to take a 5-3 lead.
The Broncos pushed a run across in the top of the sixth and seventh innings while the T-Birds scored three more runs in the bottom of the sixth.
The T-Birds had 10 hits in the win, with four of the hits coming from two players, Gonzalez and Avery Tuck. Gonzalez was 2-for-2 with three runs scored, three RBI, and a walk while Tuck had two hits.
"Joab had a good first game offensively," Durham said. "He battled at the plate. His home run was big because it kind of sparked us."
Anthony Montoya started the game on the hill, but didn't make it out of the third. Ty Stephenson came on in relief and pitched the next 3.1 innings. Stephenson allowed one run, on a solo homer, while striking out two and walking one. He got the win. Cade Acrey recorded the final four outs to get the save. He also allowed a home run while striking out two.
The T-Birds took the early lead in the nightcap, scoring twice in the first and once in the second. However, NMMI scored five times in the top of the third, putting NMJC down 5-3. The T-Birds pushed one run across in the bottom of the third and knotted the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the fourth. NMJC retook the lead with two in the sixth and one in the seventh. NMMI scored its final run in the top of the eighth,
cutting NMJC's lead to 8-6, but the T-Birds got one more run in the bottom of the eighth.
New Mexico Junior College collected 11 hits in the nightcap, all but one going for extra bases. Soterio Ramirez and Ryan Rijo both homered for NMJC. Rijo was 2-for-2 with two runs and an RBI while Ramirez was 2-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored. Tuck was 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two RBI.
"Rijo swung it pretty good, despite being limited (to DH) because he was hurt," Durham said. "Tuck had some hits and (Colton) Buckner swang it pretty decent too."
Brent Pronger started the game and gave way to Barillas with two outs int he third. Barillas struck out eight while allowing one unearned run on five hits and three walks over 6.1 innings of work to get the win.