As is often the case in sports, especially baseball, the John Gutierrez Field scoreboard in Bloomfield didn’t tell the full tale of visiting Ignacio’s season-opener Monday.
“Yeah, I don’t like the score, but we can build from what we did today,” said IHS head coach Don Hayes after a 6-0 loss to New Mexico’s Class 4A Bloomfield junior varsity squad. “We’ve obviously got stuff to work on, but for the first day counting, I’m pleased.”
Ignacio committed just one fielding error during six defensive innings upon the venue’s artificial surface that is not unlike their own at IHS Field, where this weekend the Bobcats will host the 2019 Ignacio Invitational.
“They’re ready to play at home,” Hayes said. “There’s good communication, and if we learn to swing a bat a little more aggressively, things are going to be OK.”
IHS (0-1) began the tournament against 3A Pagosa Springs, which came to town standing 0-3 overall under new skipper Mike Remlinger. The Bobcats scored five runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth, but it wasn’t enough in a 17-12 loss to the now 1-3 Pirates. Ignacio outhit the Pirates 11-10, but five Ignacio errors to only one for the Pirates proved costly.
Fair weather willing with rain in the forecast, Ignacio will begin Day 2 of the event hosting Montezuma-Cortez at 9:30 a.m. Friday. Pagosa Springs will then go against Sargent, with mid-day arrival Sanford then testing Dove Creek and Sargent shutting things down against Dolores.
The Saturday session will begin at 10 a.m. with Sanford taking on Dolores. Montezuma-Cortez and Dove Creek will square off at around noon, and Pagosa Springs-Sanford will then follow and conclude the pitcher-taxing tournament.
“That’ll be a big challenge,” Hayes said after Monday’s game. “That’s why I tried getting as many out there today, let them all get in their rhythm.”
And behind a quality no-decision start from junior Ian Weinreich (3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K, 4 runners stranded), plus promising relief stints by freshman Gabe Tucson (1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 3 K) and junior Cesar Pedregon (IP, 0 H, R, 2 BB, 2 K), Ignacio kept themselves in contention against Bloomfield despite managing just three hits offensively.
Bloomfield’s breakthrough came against first reliever Adam House in the bottom of the fourth inning with the score tied 0-0. House walked leadoff hitter Marc Armenta, then plunked Ryan Thompson. Bloomfield’s A.J. Garcia then put down what appeared to be a sacrifice bunt, but after ably charging in and bare-handing the ball, IHS third baseman Rendon Mestas threw it wide of first baseman Tucson.
Armenta scored from second on the play, while Thompson took third and Garcia second. Oviel Fries was then hit by a pitch, loading the bases, and both Thompson and Garcia would score on a wild House offering to nine-hole hitter Cameron Dugger.
With two out, three-hole stick D.J. Maes singled to center off Tucson, who’d taken the mound a batter before after the left-handed House appeared to injure his pitching arm. Maes’ single plated Fries and Dugger and gave Bloomfield a sudden 5-0 lead before Tucson struck out cleanup man Noah Obedio.
Still, Ignacio refused to quit and proceeded to make better and better contact off BHS starter Mike Bohannon (CG; 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K), culminating with a booming double to left by nine-hole batter Colten Jackson leading off the visitors’ sixth. He’d be left at the hot corner, as Bohannon retired the next three Ignacio hitters he faced.
“Errors happen; I’ve told them that,” said Hayes. “And they didn’t let that one blow up. Given the situation, everybody responded well. And (playing) multiple positions, they’re all starting to feel comfortable with that idea.”
DID YOU KNOW: The aforementioned Remlinger, who will turn 53 on Day 3 of the IHS Invitational, played for more than 15 years in Major League Baseball, compiling a 53-54 record with a 3.89 earned-run average and 20 saves in 634 games. He earned National League All-Star status in 2002 with the Atlanta Braves.