Tigers crush Kirtland Central 18-3

Aztec breaks open tie game with six runs in third inning and nine more in fourth to earn lopsided win

Karl Schneider
  • The Tigers scored nine runs in the fourth inning.
  • Cody Smith pitched five innings for Aztec to earn the win.
  • Jaden Cruz hit a solo home run over the left field wall in the top of the third inning for the Tigers.

KIRTLAND — The Aztec baseball team took advantage of numerous Kirtland Central errors and piled up 18 runs against the Broncos to cruise to an 18-3 victory in windy conditions today at Kirtland Central High School.

Aztec's Cody Smith delivers a pitch against Kirtland Central on Saturday at Kirtland Central High School.

The two sides traded runs early on, and the score was 3-3 after the second inning. But that's when the Broncos began to rack up errors.

Aztec scored six runs in the third inning, then tacked on nine more in the fourth.

"I thought we handled our emotions pretty well. It was 3-3 and a tight ball game. The boys really kept their focus, we got some baserunners, and we hustled. We hustled everywhere we went," Aztec coach Wes Laplatt said. "It's kind of a relief. We've had some hard times this year, and now that we got the win, it's kind of a monkey off our backs."

Aztec's scoring spree in the third was highlighted by two plays.

Jaden Cruz hit a high fly ball to left field, which caught the wind and carried over the left field wall for a solo home run.

Aztec's Jaden Cruz is congratulated by head coach Wes Laplatt after hitting a home run against Kirtland Central on Saturday at Kirtland Central High School.

Later in the inning, Zach Taylor hit a two-out fly to left field that pushed in two runs, but when the Broncos threw home to try to get the second run out, the ball sailed high, allowing Taylor to score from third on the error.

The Broncos had to use three pitchers in the game, which was called after the fifth inning because of the run rule, while Aztec junior Cody Smith took care of business for the Tigers on the mound.

"Cody's a really good competitor. He works really hard," Laplatt said of Smith. "There's something special about Cody — he doesn't let the pressure get to him. It's nice — I never have to worry about him."

Kirtland Central will play at Farmington on Tuesday while the Tigers will have their first home game since March 7, hosting Bloomfield Tuesday afternoon.

"I think it's going to be huge," Taylor said of finally being able playing at home. "At school everyone asks, 'When's your guys' next home game?' We only have like five. I think a lot of people will show up, and hopefully we can get it done."

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.