A mixed batch of upperclassman and up-and-coming players combined to bring the District 1-3A baseball title back to Bloomfield.
The Bobcats (16-9, 8-0 District 1-3A) defeated the Chieftains 9-0 on Thursday in Shiprock. The win solidified the district title and gave the Bobcats another valuable win as they try to improve their résumé before state seedings are announced on Sunday.
“We accomplished one of our goals and that is winning the district championship. Our goals have been to win that and then get to Albuquerque for state,” said Bloomfield head coach Fran DeHoyos. “There is a spot we need to end up at. I have looked at our record and where they will probably put us. I am fine with it because we didn't handle business early.”
Bloomfield ran into trouble before a pitch was even thrown on Thursday.
Starting pitcher Tyler Barker tweaked a hamstring in practice Wednesday, and starting catcher Chris Garcia rolled his ankle warming up in Shiprock before Thursday's game.
“We had to shut Barker down and hope to get him back next week. Then I see my catcher go down. It was bad,” DeHoyos said. “We had Kyle Thompson come in and catch and then Donnie Trujillo filled in at third. We had a freshman start at first base and Austin Lucero step up as a designated hitter. It was a pretty important game so it was big for all the guys to step up and fill a role. Everybody played and handled adversity well. I am excited about the direction we are headed.”
DeHoyos said he expects to have Garcia back for today's game against Aztec, calling Thursday's benching a precaution.
Senior Josh Archibeque started the game on the mound for Bloomfield. It was his first start since sustaining an arm injury nearly three weeks ago.
He went five strong innings before being relieved by Luke Dugan for the final two innings.
“Josh threw exceptionally well for us,” DeHoyos said. “We were going to go short with him, but he felt good after the fourth inning. He was keeping them off balance and was keeping the ball down. He pitched to contact and had some strikeouts. When Josh was done in the fifth, Dugan came in and slammed the door.”
Humberto Miramontes drove in the game's first run. He was 1-for-2 in the game.
The game was just 2-0 in the fourth inning, giving DeHoyos some worries in the dugout.
“I'm like, ‘Okay, this is cool.' We were getting guys on base, but we just weren't bringing the guys across,” he said. “I give Shiprock's pitcher credit. He threw really well. He had a good, hard fastball and a good little curveball that he located well. Facing a good arm like that helps us going into state.”
Bloomfield's Austin Lucero had a sacrifice fly that scored a big run late for Bloomfield. He was 1-for-3 in the game with two RBIs.
Elisha Journey chipped in with two more RBIs in the win.
Thursday's game was the final regular season game of the year for Shiprock (8-9, 6-2).
Bloomfield will play one final regular season game today against Aztec in a non-district contest.
“That will be a tough, fun game,” DeHoyos said. “Aztec is trying to accomplish the same thing we are as far as improving our position for state. It will be a great game that will help us keep heading in the right direction.”
John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.