FARMINGTON — Roman Trujillo was only away from home for a couple months, but that didn't curb his excitement for returning and playing baseball in front of family and friends.
Trujillo, a 2015 graduate of Oñate High School in Las Cruces, was recruited in May by Bayside Yankees coach Mark Cuseta to play shortstop for the New York City-based team.
Cuseta and Trujillo were linked through Joe Mangrum, an assistant baseball coach at New Mexico State University, which is where Trujillo will play his college ball starting next year.
"We were looking for a shortstop, and (Joe) and I have known each other for 20 years," Cuseta said. "So I did a little networking, I talked to Joe, and came to the conclusion that Roman would be a great fit for us."
The Yankees played in various tournaments in June and July to prepare for the American region tournament. Bayside went on to win the American qualifier and clinch a berth in the Connie Mack World Series after having missed out on it the previous two years.
With that, Trujillo punched his ticket back to New Mexico to be reunited with the family and friends he said good-bye to in May.
"I was pretty homesick for the first couple weeks I was gone," Trujillo said. "So just to see my parents and some people I know was pretty cool. We weren't the home team, but I got a pretty good reaction from the people who were at our games to see me."
Trujillo stayed with a foster family like most players in the tournament do, but his parents did come from Las Cruces to stay in a hotel during the week of the tournament.
This wasn't the first time Trujillo had stayed somewhere other than with his family. He was fresh off a two-month stay in Queens, N.Y., where he lived with Cuseta, along with a couple of Yankee teammates.
"It's a maturity process for a kid living away from home — I'm going to assume for the first time — like Roman did," Cuseta said. "He grew as a person, and he grew as a player, getting to meet guys on our team who were from Florida and Nashville and California. So it's a growing process in all aspects."
Trujillo said he really enjoyed his experience in New York City.
"Going to Times Square, that was really cool," he said. "I actually spent my birthday over there. It was an off day for us, and we got to go see a (New York) Yankees game. So I had a pretty cool birthday."
Cuseta said he insists on deploying strong defensive players at the shortstop position, which speaks to Trujillo's ability with the glove. Cuseta was a middle infielder himself during his playing days, and Trujillo said he believes that's why his coach pushed him so hard this summer.
"He's a really good guy, and I really liked playing for him," Trujillo said. "He's a tough coach to play for because he's really straight up about what he wants, and he's not afraid to get on you."
Bayside didn't fare too well in the CMWS, going 1-2 and being ousted in Game 13 by the Louisiana Elite Yankees. But Trujillo still said it was a week he'll never forget, and he hopes to compete in the event again next year.
"We lost a couple really close games to some good teams," Trujillo said. "I thought I struggled a little bit at the plate but played good defensively. I'm still eligible to play with (Bayside) next year, so I might be there again next year. We'll see."