Joab Gonzalez hits a home run during a home game earlier this season against NMMI. Saturday, Gonzalez had a grand slam in the T-Birds 22-4 win over Clarendon College.
The New Mexico Junior College baseball team piled on the runs in the first game of a doubleheader against Clarendon College Saturday. The Thunderbirds won 22-4. The second game was not as pretty, but the T-Birds pulled out a 10-8 victory to take three of four from the Bulldogs on the road.
New Mexico Junior College (37-13, 25-7 WJCAC) will close out its regular season with a four game series against Howard College next weekend. The T-Birds will play the first two games on the road before concluding the series at Ray Birmingham Field on Saturday.
With 38 wins already this year, the T-Birds have already surpassed their win total (35-23) during skipper Jimmy Durham's first season managing the team. The T-Birds went 26-10 in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference last season. The team is also one win way from matching its win total (38-21) from the 2015-16 season when pitching coach Jake McCarter was the interim head coach.
Clarendon scored first, plating one run in the bottom of the fourth, but the T-Birds quickly answered back with six in the top of the fifth. The Bulldogs scored two in the bottom of the fifth, cutting NMJC's lead to 6-3, but the T-Birds responded with four in the sixth to take a 10-3 lead. After keeping Clarendon off the scoreboard in the bottom of the frame, NMJC batted around and score 12 in the top of the seventh. Clarendon could muster only one run in the bottom of the frame and the T-Birds won 22-4.
The T-Birds outhit the Bulldogs 14 to 7 with six of their hits going for extra bases. Joab Gonzalez had NMJC's only home run while Joaquin Ballesteros and Avery Tuck each had two doubles. Jake Dickerson had one double for the T-Birds. NMJC also drew 12 free passes.
Dickerson and Ballesteros both had three hits. Dickerson was 3-for-4 with two RBI and four runs scored while Ballesteros was 3-for-4 with three runs batted in and three runs scored. Gonzalez knocked in five runs, four coming on a grand slam, and scored three times while Daniel Hernandez drove in four and crossed home plate twice.
Carlos Ortiz went the distance for NMJC, pitching all seven innings for the win. He threw 112 pitches while scattering seven hits and four walks with nine strikeouts. Of the four runs he allowed, only two were earned.
In the nightcap, the T-Birds came out on top 10-8 in a back and forth affair between the two teams. The T-Birds led, they trailed, and had the game tied before scoring what would be the winning runs in the top of the ninth.
The T-Birds scored first, plating two in the top of the first. Clarendon got one back in the bottom of the second, but NMJC scored three in the top of the third to take a 5-1 lead. It was short-lived though as Clarendon scored four times in the bottom of the third to knot the game at 5-5. The Bulldogs took a 6-5 lead with one run in the bottom of the fourth, but NMJC tied it with a run in the top of the fifth.
The T-Birds retook the lead with two runs in the top of the eight, but Clarendon once again knotted the game in the bottom of the frame. In the top of the ninth, the T-Birds again scored twice, but with the game on the line, the T-Birds kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard for the win.
Tuck Tucker started the game for NMJC and didn't make it out of the third. He allowed five runs, four earned, on four hits and two walks. Tristan Stivors came on in relief and pitched the next 6.1 innings to get the win. He gave up three runs on six hits and four walks while striking out six.
Barker was 3-for-4 with three runs and an RBI while Rijo was 1-for-3 with two walks, three RBI, and two runs scored. Dickerson was 3-for-4 and Tuck was 2-for-5. Ryan drove in two runs as did Jacques Palmer.