FARMINGTON — The 4-Corners Clubsox lineup hasn't been at full strength since city league began. So it's a good thing coach Brett Alexander has a stellar pitching staff to rely on, headed by Cam Baird.
Baird was lights out for the Clubsox Monday night at the Farmington Sports Complex, striking out six 14ers over five innings, while allowing zero runs to cross the plate. His performance propelled the Clubsox to the 5-1 victory on the first day of the Connie Mack City Tournament.
The Clubsox will return to the Complex today to play the Rivercats at 5:30 p.m. The Rivercats advanced by toppling Bloomfield 9-1 Monday night.
"Cam was Cam today. We've had him for two years, and we know what we're going to get out of him, and that's everything he has," Alexander said of his starting pitcher, who plays for Trinidad State Junior College in Colorado. "He traveled (from Albuquerque) yesterday, so he was a little tight. I don't even think that's the best he'll throw all week."
The Clubsox offense has been without college sluggers Jeff Deimling, Daniel Herrera and Jacob Turcotte for much of city league, as they have been playing in other tournaments and exhibitions in their home city of Albuquerque.
Now that the entire offense is together, Alexander said he expects it to gradually improve.
"The offense was OK," he said. "It was a long weekend, I think we played six games. But we'll be fine."
Though not too flashy, the savvy Clubsox offense found ways to score all night.
The 14ers shot themselves in the foot in the first inning, as two infield throwing errors resulted in two early runs for the Clubsox.
In the second inning, Deimling put the third run on the board for his team via the sacrifice fly. Tyler Archuleta came through with an RBI single in the fourth.
Gunner Archuleta capped the scoring for the Clubsox with an RBI base knock in the fifth.
Taed Heydinger pitched for the 14ers Monday. He often fell behind in counts, but he also found ways to come back and pitch out of jams. In the second inning, Heydinger loaded the bases with nobody out but escaped with only one run allowed.
Offensively, 14ers coach Jared Qualls said he thought his bunch didn't play smartly against Baird.
"We were kind of letting him pitch his game," Qualls said. "We swung at pitches we shouldn't have been swinging at. We swung at his pitches instead of our pitches."
The 14ers' lone run came courtesy of a Caden Henderson RBI single in the top of the sixth inning off of Tray Franks. The 14ers notched four singles off Franks in the sixth, but an inning-ending double play prevented major damage.
Qualls' 14ers will battle Bloomfield at 8 p.m. today back at the Complex. The loser will be eliminated from the city tournament.
Naa'taanii hammers Halo 21-4
In only five innings of work on Monday night, Naa'taanii proved how serious of a contender it is to host the Connie Mack World Series.
Naa'taanii took full advantage of a sloppy pitching performance by Halo starter Dylan Begay, putting up seven runs in the opening inning and cruising from there to the 21-4 win at the Farmington Sports Complex.
Begay walked a batter and gave up a hit to start the game and proceeded to throw three wild pitches over the course of the next two at-bats to score both runners.
Tyler Shumard busted the game open later in the first when he clobbered a ball into right center field with the bases loaded. His double scored all three runs and served as the knockout punch.
After putting up seven runs in the first, Naa'taanii scored five in the second, three in the third and six in the fourth inning, including a three-run homer from Brandon Larson.
John Estes came in to relieve Naa'taanii starter Abraham Hobson in the fifth. He allowed four runs, including RBI hits by Pedro Tom and Cameron Begay.
With the win, Naa'taanii advances to play another Connie Mack powerhouse in Strike Zone Morrissey tonight. The game starts at 8 p.m. and will be played at Ricketts Park.