BLOOMFIELD — A decisive win in Bloomfield is exactly what the Aztec baseball team needed to get back on track. For Bloomfield, the big loss could damage the Bobcats' hopes for a top-eight seed in state and a home series.
Aztec (15-7, 1-4 District 1-4A) took down the Bobcats 15-0 on Friday in the final game of the regular season for the Bobcats (16-10, 8-0 District 1-3A).
The non-district game ahead of today's game against Kirtland Central provided Aztec a nice relief after consecutive losses to Piedra Vista and Farmington High.
“It was good for the kids to get back on track a little bit,” said Aztec assistant coach Brett Alexander. “Our district is the toughest one to get out of. Once you face other teams, kids kind of get confidence and get a better feel for games.”
Dalton Watson pitched for the Tigers. He threw all five innings and allowed only two Bloomfield hits.
“He threw really well. He was 98 percent fastball and located real well,” Alexander said of his pitcher. “He is a kid we will rely on during the stretch run. He had been coming out of the bullpen and that was his first start. It is good for him to see he can do it over five innings instead of one or two.”
Bloomfield head coach Frank DeHoyos believes facing Dalton will help the Bobcats leading into the state tournament.
“I was excited to see a quality arm. We had good at-bats, but the scoreboard didn't come out the way we wanted. That is alright,” DeHoyos said. “Aztec definitely has one of the toughest teams they have had in awhile. They have all the tools. Alexander and the rest of the coaches there have done a great job. They should make a lot of noise and have the tools to surprise a lot of teams. I wouldn't want to face them.”
Dylan Stinson hit two triples for Aztec and Watson added another triple.
“Everybody in the lineup had at least one hit. We also probably had four or five doubles,” Alexander said. “We put the ball in play and did a lot of good things. On defense, we didn't have an error. We can hang our hat on that in this game.”
Bloomfield committed seven fielding errors.
“Aztec hit the ball well, but we played bad defense. It was our worst outing of the year. We couldn't catch a fly ball,” DeHoyos said. “I guess if there is a ever a good time to catch the error bug, this was. Better now than next week.”
Bloomfield started Donnie Trujillo on the mound. He was chased after one and one-third innings.
DeHoyos planned on starting Kyle Thompson, but Thompson was forced to catch again as Chris Garcia sat out again Friday after twisting an ankle while warming up in Shiprock on Thursday.
“Garcia's ankle was real tender. We had to pitch a lot of younger guys. They threw well enough to keep us in the game, but when you don't catch the ball it is tough,” DeHoyos said.
Luke Dugan, Junior Candelaria and Humberto Miramontes all got a chance to pitch for Bloomfield.
DeHoyos is hoping the lopsided loss doesn't send his team packing in the first round of the 3A state playoffs next week.
“I was expecting somewhere between a No. 6 and No. 8 seed but, with this loss, I am thinking somewhere between eight and 10. I don't want to see us lower than a nine,” DeHoyos said. “I would love to have a home game and the opportunity to show off the field and what the community has done for us in Bloomfield.”
Alexander also hopes Bloomfield can host a playoff series on its beautiful turf field.
“You get that true hop out there. It has to be one of the top two or three stadiums in all of New Mexico, including Isotopes Park and Ricketts,” Alexander said. “Bloomfield is a scrappy club, and I wish them the best of luck in 3A. I hope they bring that trophy back to the Four Corners. DeHoyos does a great job, and they have quality kids.”
John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.