Two quality pitchers also battled, but their performances were overshadowed by scrappiness on the field, perhaps a career-ending injury to Aztec's Johnathan Archuleta and Aztec's third parent ejection in seven days.
When the dust settled, Bloomfield came from behind 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh to take a 3-2 win.
A slow-roller off the bat of junior Anthony Martinez scored senior Andrew Garcia, giving the Bobcats (7-9 overall, 2-1 District 1-4A) the win against the Tigers (7-9, 0-4). Earlier in the inning Jacob Salazar came around to score to tie the game on a play that saw the ejection of Bloomfield sophomore Damian Duran for sliding into an Aztec fielder at second base. The ball laid on the infield as Duran was ruled out and ejected, and Salazar kept his head up and took home plate easily amidst the confusion.
"It is always nice to pick up a win in this district. We got one we needed and now we are 2-1. I will take that," said Bloomfield head coach Frank DeHoyos. "We had some stuff happen to us in the game, but the seniors did a great job and so did the young guys. It was awesome to win this one."
In the first inning, tension between the two rivals, who are separated by just eight miles, boiled over. Bloomfield senior Rockey Mackey slid into third base and came up bumping Aztec freshman third baseman Noah Frohn. Frohn retaliated with a push of his own and both boys were tossed from the game and both will miss their team's next game as well.
"Baseball is a game of emotions and you have to be able to bottle those emotions at times when altercations flare up," said Aztec assistant coach Brett Alexander. "Unfortunately we retaliated and both guys got ejected there. I talked to Frohn a little bit about it and I told him he is learning a valuable lesson at an early age. Sometimes you just have to back off a bit."
DeHoyos said he would be the first to say that Mackey was wrong, but he was disappointed to see Duran ejected for what he believed was a baseball player making a baseball play in sliding into second base.
An Aztec parent was also ejected in the bottom of the third inning when he began yelling down onto the field at DeHoyos. The home plate umpire immediately brought the game to a halt and ejected the parent, who continued to badger DeHoyos until he was out of sight and sound of the ballpark. DeHoyos stood his ground, barking back to the parent before being calmed by the umpire crew.
"Our parents support their kids 100 percent. Unfortunately sometimes they cross the line a little bit but at the same time that is their child on the field and they don't want to see their kid get bullied around or to be squeezed by the umpire," Alexander said. "We have talked to the kids and parents about controlling their emotions. There is a time and a place to get frustrated, but we have to control it. We are a young team without a ton of varsity experience, and that includes the parents. It is a learning curve for both of them and we have to be able to police it ourselves."
The drama distracted from a good game between two teams battling for a district win. Senior Clay Payne pitched a solid game for Bloomfield and junior Tyson Curley was hitting his spots and bringing the velocity for Aztec, once again flirting with double-digit strikeouts numbers.
"It was a close game and a lot of fun," Payne said. "The guys played hard the whole time and came through with the win. Losing (Mackey) threw a wrinkle in things early, but we had a freshman, Jacob Deifenbaugh, step in and play his butt off for us. I love these young guys to death. We are feeling confident and we are going for (the playoffs)."
Alexander said it hurt to see Curley, who also hit a solo home run in the top of the third inning that gave Aztec a 2-0 lead at the time, lose a game that he thought he pitched well in.
"We have let two games in a row slip right through our hands in which our pitchers threw gems," Alexander said. "When you leave 13 guys on base and can't get a run in, it is tough. The biggest thing is telling these guys to look at the big picture. Every pitch, at bat and play is a learning experience for these young guys. Eventually those doubles and big hits will come through for them."
Bloomfield is on a mission to make the 16-team playoff field while Aztec is looking to make sure the team doesn't put its head down for the rest of the season after opening the first half of district games without a win.
"The guys will have Easter weekend to get away from the game and then come back Monday recharged and ready to go against Piedra Vista next Saturday," Alexander said. "Our kids will continue to fight. Whatever the next four games bring us, I know they will keep their nose in it and work hard."
Aztec will likely play the rest of the season without senior outfielder and leadoff hitter Johnathan Archuleta, who dislocated his shoulder after going head first into first base in the top of the sixth inning. Archuleta has already had surgery on the same shoulder earlier in his life, and Alexander said he will be a huge loss to the team.
"More than anything we will miss his leadership," Alexander said. "He is kind of the guy everyone looks up to when times get tough. Losing him hurts tremendously."