FARMINGTON — Naa'taanii was out to the start it had been dreaming of for years against Strike Zone Baseball in the Connie Mack City Tournament on Friday night.
Then the game was postponed.
With Naa'taanii leading Strike Zone 3-0 after one complete inning of play, wet conditions from a rainstorm brought the game to a pause as umpires waited for grounds crew workers to find a key to unlock a shed with drying solution.
And after a nearly 30-minute delay, the umpires postponed the game to noon today.
"It is a little frustrating, but I am not going to call out anybody publicly," said Naa'taanii head coach Tim Campos. "It is just a break for (Strike Zone). We had a three-run lead, and I felt like we were ready to go. But, hey, we have a three-run lead, and we have to come out and regroup and continue to hit the ball."
Strike Zone head coach Adam Morrissey said the umpires made the decision in the interest of player safety, especially to the pitchers on the slippery mound.
"They didn't have any Quick Dry to fix up the field or anything, so we will just turn around at noon and get it going," Morrissey said. "It is good and bad, I guess. We will see how it goes."
Naa'taanii badly wanted to continue playing. Every player was up on the dugout rail embracing the weather.
"That is our team. This team is excitable. This tournament is extremely important to them. They are on a mission this year, and I just hope nothing gets in the way," Campos said.
The Naa'taanii and Strike Zone match up has become the biggest rivalry in the Connie Mack City Tournament in recent years, and no game seems to happen without incident, whether it is about rulings on the field or the weather.
"It is always some type of event. Every time. We have to roll with the punches and thank God for the graces he gives you and make it work," Campos said.
Strike Zone starting pitcher Jacy Cave recorded two quick outs in the top of the first inning. With a runner on second base and two outs, Naa'taanii's Nick DeArmond hit a ground ball to Strike Zone second baseman Jeremy Johnson. Johnson bobbled the ball initially and then overthrew the first baseman, allowing Naa'taanii's Roman Gonsalez to score from second.
With the inning still alive, Terrance Barela drove a double to the outfield to score DeArmond.
Cave then hit James Cordova with a pitch and walked Marvin Ortiz to load the bases, and Ryan Barreras drew another walk to bring in Barela, giving Naa'taanii its 3-0 lead.
"You can't do anything about the rain. It is going to happen and mistakes will happen," Cave said. "We just need to refocus on the whole new task at hand now."
Cave said he will be ready to pitch at noon today, but Campos said he expects Strike Zone to turn the ball over to ace Ian Doughty with the extra day of rest.
"They can throw someone else at us. They can sit back and refocus, and this is unfortunate," Campos said. "But, at the same time, we still have to come out and play hard. There is a lot of baseball left."
Both teams will now have to play two games today. Naa'taanii will face 4-Corners in the final four and Strike Zone will face the Rivercats.
The winner of the noon game won't play until 8 p.m. and the loser must play at 5:30 p.m.
"We will take a lot and see what else we have and how we realign because obviously we will have two games now. We have to adjust for that and see how it goes," Campos said.John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.