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FARMINGTON – The Aztec baseball team was well tested in its opening game of its home tournament and battled back from a deficit to knock off Colorado’s Montezuma-Cortez 9-7 Friday night in Aztec.

“I thought our kids learned a lot. We came from behind. We were down 4-2, but the kids just played tough and stayed with it,” Aztec head coach Wes Laplatt said. “That was a big deal. It seemed like every time we hit a ball hard, it was right at them. It was kind of one of those nights that we had to fight through it.”

The Tigers trailed 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth, but their bats got going for six runs in the inning to take control of the game.

Derek Baca finished the night 2 for 4 with two doubles, and Dustin Sipe finished 2 for 2.

Defensively, Aztec didn’t catch many breaks against the Panthers.

“We played pretty well, but it seemed like everything went their way,” Laplatt said. “But we kept scrapping, and I think that will help us down the road and make us grow.”

Aztec will play Kirtland Central at 9 a.m. today, then finish the tourney against Santa Fe at 5 p.m.

Santa Fe 12, Kirtland Central 4

A brutal first inning doomed the Broncos (3-4) on Friday, as four errors and a rare rough start from pitcher Randon Blindman led to an eight-run Santa Fe rally.

The Demons (3-4) coasted after the huge first inning and trumped KC 12-4 on the first day of the Aztec Invitational.

Blindman, KC's top starting pitcher, only made it through a third of an inning before exiting with a hip injury.

"His mechanics were off, and he just wasn't getting a good drive off the mound, so we made the decision to pull him," KC coach Bryan Wardroup said.

Six of Santa Fe's eight opening-inning runs were unearned.

KC's defense settled down, and the Broncos played the Demons to a 4-4 score after that, but the damage had already been done.

Brock Beckstead logged a triple and scored twice for KC, which plays at 9 a.m. against Aztec and 11:30 a.m. today against Montezuma-Cortez, Colo., in Aztec.

Shiprock 17, Nucla, Colo., 9 

Shiprock 7, Monticello, Utah, 3

Arjay Miller hit two home runs and pitched in both Shiprock victories on Saturday, the first day of the San Juan Slugfest in Blanding, Utah.

The undefeated Chieftains (8-0) topped Nucla, Colo., 17-9 in the first half of a doubleheader, before downing Monticello, Utah, 7-3.

Miller did it all for Shiprock, hitting a leadoff homer and earning a victory as a pitcher in the first game, then slugging a two-run homer in the second game to give his team a lead it would never relinquish.

"He's 100 percent committed to baseball. He really wants to win," Shiprock coach Alfred Baer said of Miller. "He's a good leader; he's been in the program for five years. It's good to see him get off to good start as a senior."

Shiprock jumped all over Nucla with 10 runs in the first two innings.

Dylan Begay started the second game, but felt some elbow soreness, so he was replaced by Miller. Chance Harvey would relieve Miller in the fifth and go on to earn the win.

Cameron Phillips ignited the Shiprock offense with five total on the day.

Shiprock takes on San Juan, Utah, in Blanding at 1:30 p.m. today.

Softball

Banning, Calif., 4, Piedra Vista 3

Piedra Vista 14, Palos Verde, Calif., 4

Piedra Vista split its games at the Torrance National Tournament in Torrance, Calif., losing to Banning, Calif., 4-3 in eight innings before trouncing California’s Palos Verde 14-4 Friday.

“Our inexperience caught up to us,” PV head coach Kevin Werth said of the loss to Banning. “We have to use it as a learning tool and get better from it. Aleja (Armenta) pitched phenomenal, we just couldn’t push runs across when opportunities presented themselves.”

In the game against Palos Verde, the Lady Panthers’ bats came alive.

Katie Jensen finished the game with two triples and four runs batted in, and Nykki Benally belted a two-run home run.

Ananda Delegartio picked up the win in the circle.

PV will continue play in Torrance today.

“We’re 2-2 with a chance to go 3-2 out here, which is great for us, considering the competition,” Werth said.

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577. 

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

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