FARMINGTON — After taking a big win against Aztec on Tuesday, the Farmington Scorpions can win the District 1-4A title with a victory Saturday against crosstown rival Piedra Vista.
The Scorpions (18-7, 5-0 District 1-4A) defeated the Tigers 9-5 on Tuesday at Ricketts Park. Austin Davis pitched an efficient six innings for Farmington High to earn a win ahead of Aztec ace Tyson Curley.
“It was big for us to get this W,” Davis said. “I just went out and tried to pitch to contact, as usual. I don't have stuff that will blow anyone away. I put my trust in the defense behind me and pray to God I throw strikes.”
Davis threw plenty of strikes, so much so the Aztec hitters had a hard time laying off his first-pitch fastball. Davis threw just six pitches in the first inning and second innings and left the game after throwing fewer than 80 pitches in six innings.
He allowed eight Aztec hits, but great defensive play helped Davis surrender just two runs. He walked three but struck out three Tiger batters.
“I thought it was probably the worst he has done locating his fastball, but he pitched to contact and filled up the strike zone because of it,” Farmington High head coach Sean Trotter said of Davis. “He gave up some hits, but he rode out the storm a bit and we took advantage of their mishaps.”
Aztec (14-7, 1-4) committed five fielding errors in the game, hurting Curley's chance of limiting damage.
Three errors in the bottom of the sixth inning allowed Farmington High to stretch its lead from 4-2 to 9-2 in the blink of an eye.
“If we don't kick the ball around so much, we probably win that game,” said Aztec assistant coach Brett Alexander. “Tyson pitched well enough to win the game. If we play better defense and run the bases better, we win that game.”
Curley gave up seven hits and walked four Scorpions while striking out three in five-plus innings of work.
The Scorpions struck first with a run in the third inning when Brad Betz drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk to bring home a run. An error at shortstop on a ball hit by Beamer Wick just one batter before Betz extended the inning
Farmington scored two more runs in the fourth inning when a pop fly off the bat of Lance Lee was misjudged in centerfield. The ball fell to the ground behind a sliding Dylan Stinson, allowing Colby Nelson and Matt Huffhines to score while Lee was credited with a double.
The Scorps extended the lead to 4-0 in the fourth inning when Betz scored on a Nelson single. Betz reached first to leadoff the inning after striking out on a Curley wild-pitch.
Aztec had chances to tighten the game in the fourth inning with Randy LePlatt leading off with a double and Tanner Moore singling to give the Tigers runners on first and third with no outs.
A courtesy runner came in for Moore and stole second base, warranting a throw from Blackwater behind the plate for the Scorps.
The courtesy runner slid in safely to second as the throw from Blackwater was high. The throw glanced off of one Scorpion defender's glove but into the bare hand of the Scorp backing up second base.
LePlatt got a late jump off third base while trying to take home on the play, and he was gunned down at home plate by the throw from second base.
After making the tag at home on LePlatt, Blackwater then fired back to third base to get the courtesy runner trying to advance.
It was certainly a unique double play.
“I got a big adrenaline rush right there,” Davis said. “You trust your team, and when they make big plays like that for you, it is huge.”
Alexander said it was an example of how his team aggressively ran the bases, but at the wrong time.
“Farmington High is a good ball club that runs the bases aggressively at smart times. We will be aggressive and run the bases hard, but we didn't do it in smart situations,” Alexander said. “We ran ourself into bad situations. We had four bad base-running mistakes that cost us four or five more runs.”
Aztec did score two runs in the fifth as Chance Justis led off with a single before being brought home by a Noah Frohn triple. Frohn then scored on a Devin Cole sacrifice fly.
But Farmington put an end to Aztec's hopes of a comeback with a five-run sixth inning that was fueled by three Aztec errors.
After allowing a single to Huffhines to start the inning, Lee reached on an error and Curley walked Davis to load the bases.
That was it for Curley, who was then relieved by Dylan Stinson after throwing 117 pitches.
Wick drove in a run with a single before advancing all the way to third on a throwing error. Betz then drove in Wick with another single.
Davis was relieved by Frankie Gutierrez in the seventh inning.
Gutierrez struggled to throw strikes, including one stretch in which he threw 12 consecutive balls to walk in Cole, who led off the inning with a single.
A sacrifice fly from Mooe allowed Stinson to score and a single by Rip Watkins drove in LePlatt, but Watkins was caught trying to take second base when the throw to home was cutoff, and Watkins was the final out of the game.
“That is taking care of the baseball. We really did a good job of that. If we can continue to do that, it will be huge for us,” Trotter said.
Aztec has one game left in district against Kirtland Central on Saturday.
Alexander said the team remains confident and knows their four losses in district have come to the top-two 4A teams in the state in PV and Farmington.
“It would have been nice to play PV closer than we did this year because I know we can but, for some reason, we have a mental block we can't overcome there,” Alexander said. “We played Farmington High tough. It is nice to know when you lose games, at least they are against the two best team in the state in 4A.”
Trotter will prepare his team to face Piedra Vista on Saturday in a game that will decide the district champion.
“We see PV for the fourth time. There aren't any secrets. We know what we will get and they know what they will get. It is a matter of who makes less mistakes and gets key hits,” Trotter said.
The Farmington High seniors have never won a district title. Davis hopes that changes this weekend.
“It would be really big — huge,” he said. “I have never been apart of a title winning team. It would be very big for all of us.”
Piedra Vista 23, Kirtland Central 0
Tuesday's game in Kirtland was no contest for the three-time defending state champion Piedra Vista Panthers.
PV (16-9, 4-1) defeated Kirtland Central (7-13, 0-5) 23-0 behind a Matt Martin grand slam and another home run off the bat of Jacy Cave, his second in as many games.
Cave earned a win on the mound for PV in four innings of work.
“Jacy started slow with two walks but both of those guys were thrown out trying to steal by Zach Ahlgrim at catcher,” said PV head coach Mike McGaha. “After that, he cruised. He had a few deep counts, but he only threw around 54 pitches. His curve was over for a strike and he had good velocity. He keeps steadily getting better.”
Gunner Archuleta threw one inning in relief of Cave.
PV's rotation is now set up to allow ace Ian Doughty to pitch Saturday against Farmington High.
“We set it up this way on purpose. We have Ian to start, Gunner to give us an inning, Nate Dominguez, who pitched Saturday against Aztec, can come in and do what he has done all year as a three-pitch guy, and we have Jacy Cave who can go an inning if needed,” McGaha said. “We hope Ian can give us a better start than he did last time.”
Piedra Vista will win the district outright if they can beat Farmington by two runs or more.
It will come down to another tiebreaker if PV only beats Farmington by one run.
If the Scorps win, they are district champs.
“I am not 100 percent sure, but in the past anytime you have a split district and if we only beat FHS by one run, it seems like it is a run-differential tiebreaker against the third-place team in the district. If it isn't that, it is probably some crazy thing like who had more runners reach third base or something,” McGaha joked.
If that is the case, PV would have the advantage over Farmington High with a 30-0 run differential on Aztec to Farmington's 17-8.
John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.