Bobcats back in playoff picture after 6-3 win

Bloomfield baseball team on the state tournament bubble

Karl Schneider

BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield baseball team is fighting for its playoff life.

Bloomfield third baseman Orlando Frias throws to first for an out against Kirtland Central on Thursday at John Gutierrez Field in Bloomfield.

The Bobcats have been through one of their toughest seasons in recent years and dropped six of their first seven games of the District 1-5A schedule. But with the season winding down, they've found hope for postseason life.

Bloomfield's last three games have been a 4-3 loss to Aztec, a 13-1 win over Gallup and today's 6-3 win against Kirtland Central. The two wins and a one-run loss to Aztec — which is vying for the district title and hosting rights for the first round of the state tournament — helped put the Bobcats back in the conversation for one of the final spots in the 5A tourney.

"They didn't give up on anything and really started to understand the game of baseball," Bloomfield coach Frank DeHoyos said of the Bobcats. "They kept playing hard. We always talk about how if you work hard enough, the baseball gods will grant you some things, and we kind of made our own luck."

On the verge of losing any hope for a playoff spot, the Bobcats started playing with a sense of urgency while also eliminating a lot of the pressure they felt during the season.

"We pretty much have our backs pinned up against the wall, but we've started to come together," Bloomfield senior Brendon Charley said. "We're just playing baseball now. We have nothing to lose, and we're just having fun."

Bloomfield's Nolan McKim connects on a pitch against Kirtland Central on Thursday at John Gutierrez Field in Bloomfield.

A key component in the Bobcats' turnaround the last few games has been getting consistency from their young roster.

"We've got some young guys, and they were put to the fire and tested early, and our young guys have learned a lot," DeHoyos said. "We have a few seniors who play every game, but other than that, almost everyone is a new varsity starter. I think they were a little nervous, but now it's just a game."

After Tuesday's 13-1 win over Gallup, DeHoyos said Grants and Los Alamos sit ahead of the Bobcats for one of the final spots in the 16-team state tournament bracket. However, the Bobcats beat Grants in two of their three meetings this season and downed the Hilltoppers in their two games, both in Los Alamos, by a combined 24 runs.

Working against Bloomfield is Grants' and Los Alamos' success in their respective districts. Both have winning records in district play, but DeHoyos believes the top-to-bottom depth of District 1-5A will be a factor in the Bobcats' favor.

"Hopefully, (the selection committee) recognizes the strength of our schedule compared to other teams'," DeHoyos said. "I know our win-loss schedule doesn't show it, but we played a tough nondistrict schedule, and our district is pretty stinking tough. I just hope people around the state, when it comes to selection, look at the strength of our district and not just win-loss records."

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