The Panthers (2-0) defeated Los Alamos 12-0 and 9-1 in doubleheader action at Ricketts Park.
“I am not sure if it is indicative of where we should be in May, but I do know I am very pleased,” said PV head coach Mike McGaha.
Ian Doughty earned the win in Game 1 with four scoreless innings. He struck out six while only throwing 63 pitches.
“He was very similar to what he was at the end of last year, which is good because it is early,” McGaha said. “I think he has a chance to be very tough to beat.”
Nate Dominguez took the win in Game 2. He also pitched four innings. Though he struggled with his control at times, Dominguez pitched well after battling hamstring injuries on both legs.
“Nate is still coming back from his hamstring injury from last April. Then he popped the other one the second day out of practice this year,” McGaha said. “He is nowhere near 100 percent. From the waist down he is probably only 75 percent. His curve doesn’t have the bite on it that it normally would have. The change of speed in his fast ball and changeup isn’t drastic enough yet. I am proud of him for going out there and throwing strikes and letting his defense make plays. It gave us an idea of who we are defensively. I think that is an area we are going to be pretty good in.
The Panthers didn’t appear to miss a beat with their defense in the outfield while trying to replace Brady Colebrook, Shilo McCall and Shane Woodson.
“We lose Shilo to the ninth round of the draft and Woodson and what he meant to us out there and how many games he won by himself out there in right field for us. In our second game, we ran out a sophomore in left, a junior in center and our catcher (Doughty) essentially in right,” McGaha said. “They were tracking down balls and making plays. I am very pleased with that.”
Jacy Cave was able to pitch the seventh inning of Game 2. He struck out the Los Alamos side with impressive fast balls with plenty of velocity on them.
Cave returns to the mound this year after undergoing Tommy John surgery his junior season.
“Jacy isn’t quite there yet, but he will be back. He has been working hard,” McGaha said. “Last weekend, he started a scrimmage against La Cueva, and he reached his pitch count. His shoulder was real tender and it was a tough turnaround week for him. I told him to do what he wanted to do and asked if he minded closing here early and he said ‘No.’ It was all we could do to try to get him an inning.”
Matt Martin had a solid day at the plate for the Panthers, going 4-for-4 while drawing two walks. He also scored five runs.
“It felt good being out there again. I have been looking forward to it all fall and training for it,” Martin said. “I know I have some big shoes to fill, but I have to do what I have to do. It is going to take every one of us to get those runs produced.”
The Panthers may not have the same returning stars as in years past, but McGaha is confident this group will make a name of its own.
“You hate to compare guys to kids from the past, but we try to do a little Money Ball thing and take aggregate parts of guys in the past and try to build into the lineup the pieces that we are missing,” McGaha said.
McGaha isn’t sure what he will have with his batting lineup this year, but he is satisfied with being a pitching and defensive-minded squad.
“I am an offensive guy, so I am not sure how comfortable I am being the pitching/defensive kind of club, but right now we are learning,” he said. “We will take runs where we can get them. If we can get a guy like Zach Ahlgrim going and add him to the mix with guys like Martin, Cave and Doughty in our lineup, we still have a chance to be pretty good I think. It will boil down to guys mentally thinking they can and finding ways to put balls in play instead of focusing on base hits and driving in runs. Some of our guys have never had to be in that role in the past, but now guys are jumping in there in a hurry.”
In Kirtland, the Broncos dropped their first two games of the season to Gallup.
Jalen Nakai took the loss on the mound in Game 1 for Kirtland Central as the Broncos fell 11-8 to the Bengals.
Rashaan Sorrelhorse was on the hook for the loss in Game 2 as Gallup defeated Kirtland 10-5.
Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington were all in action Saturday in scrimmages.
John Livingston may be reached at email@example.com or 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.