Tigers rally in bottom of seventh, win 1-5A title

District championship is team's first in nearly 2 decades

Karl Schneider
  • Seniors Spencer Hayden and Kyler Duggins drove in the game-tying and game-winning runs.
  • The District 1-5A title is Aztec's first championship in close to 20 years.
  • The 5A state tournament brackets will be released Monday night.

AZTEC — The Aztec baseball team captured its first district title in close to two decades in dramatic fashion today, getting RBIs in the bottom of the seventh inning from its two seniors to lift the Tigers past Miyamura 7-6.

Aztec's Spencer Hayden celebrates after hitting an RBI double to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh inning against Miyamura on Saturday in Aztec.

With two outs and his team trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh, senior Spencer Hayden doubled to center field, driving in Sebastian McNeal for the tying run.

Then, on the next at-bat, Kyler Duggins, the team's other senior, found a gap in the outfield, scoring Hayden from second to secure the walk-off victory and send the Tigers into pandemonium. They mobbed Duggins and dogpiled on top of the senior as snowflakes fell on the field.

"Coach was telling me the pressure was on the pitcher because it was a tie ball game," Duggins said. "I just tried to do my job, get the bat on the ball and get a hit."

Aztec's Zach Taylor  (3) and Kyler Duggins celebrate after Duggins drove in the winning run against Miyamura on Saturday in Aztec.

The come-from-behind win guarantees Aztec a spot in the 5A state tournament and should seal a home series for the Tigers in the first round for the second year in a row.

"It's crazy. I feel like we've had better teams, but this year we just came together as a team. We've had ups and downs, and it's been rough at times, but this is so awesome," said Aztec sophomore Zach Taylor, who was the first to get to Duggins and initiate the dogpile. "At the bottom of the dogpile, I was yelling at Duggins, 'It feels good,' even though there we like 15 guys on us."

The Tigers fell behind 5-0 in the third inning and chipped away at Miyamura's lead before tying the game at 5 in the bottom of the sixth.

The Aztec baseball team dogpiles on top of Kyler Duggins after winning the District 1-5A title on Saturday in Aztec.

Aztec had a chance to take the lead in the sixth, working the bases loaded with no outs, but Miyamura turned a triple play to get out of the inning.

Miyamura retook the lead in the top of the seventh, recording back-to-back hits with two outs to take a 6-5 lead and set up Hayden and Duggins' heroics.

Aztec head coach Wes Laplatt said one of the keys to the victory, and the successful season, is the Tigers' team chemistry.

Aztec's Zach Taylor pitches against Miyamura on Saturday in Aztec.

"This team loves each other. They all hang out all the time not because we're trying to be a team, but because they like each other, and I think that really helps us," Laplatt said. "Our last three games, we've won one-run ball games three times. They won't give up on each other, and you saw that in the last inning."

The Tigers will now wait to learn what seed they receive in the state tourney. Brackets for the tournament are expected to be revealed around 11 p.m. Monday.

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