Panthers advance to PV Invite final

Karl Schneider

FARMINGTON – The Piedra Vista baseball team took advantage of every mistake Colorado’s Fruita Monument made and advanced to the final of the PV Invitational with a 10-5 win Friday evening at Ricketts Park.

“When you see someone (FM’s Sam Schroeder) with that kind of an arm, throwing 88 mph with a filthy slider, our goal was to lay off anything that was up in the zone, move runners over and be opportunistic, and to be honest, that’s what we did,” PV head coach Mike McGaha said.

To go with their opportunistic play, the Panthers got key hits from Andrew Caliendo and Logan Klunder that drove in runs.

In the bottom of the first, Caliendo doubled to left field to score Kyle Dewees and put runners on second and third with no outs. But Schroeder settled in, retiring the next three batters to get out of the inning without further damage.

In the bottom of the second inning, Dewees, Elijah Gamboa and Klunder drove in runs to give the Panthers a 4-2 lead.

In the fourth, PV capitalized on crucial Fruita Monument mishaps.

Piedra Vista's Tyler Mead watches the ball sail into foul territory during Friday's game against Fruita Monument at Ricketts Park.

Brandon Gardenhire scored from second after a throw from home, trying to catch him too far off the bag at second, hit off the fielder’s glove and bounced into the outfield. On the next at-bat, with Dewees at third, the Wildcats dropped a third strike on Caliendo, and when the catcher threw to first for the out, Dewees took off for home and slid in under the tag for a run.

Caliendo drove in two more in the bottom of the sixth with a double to left field. Tyler Mead then brought in another run and Klunder scored on a passed ball to make it 10-2.

The Wildcats added three runs in the top of the seventh to give the game the 10-5 final.

PV will play the tourney’s defending champion Pueblo West, from Pueblo, Colo., at 4:30 p.m. today with Colton Foster starting on the mound.

“I’d like to see Colton go out and throw strikes, and not try to do too much. He hasn’t had a start and has only had one inning on the mound (this season), and I don’t think he has to do anything special, just go out and throw the ball over the plate and give us a chance to compete. At the plate, if we do what we did today and try to move runners and be opportunistic running the bases, we’ll be OK.”

Pueblo West, Colo., 12, Farmington 3

Farmington was outmatched during its semifinal game of the PV Invitational, falling to the tourney’s defending champion, Colorado’s Pueblo West, 12-3 Friday afternoon at Ricketts Park.

The Scorps struggled to get going at the plate, with head coach Sean Trotter saying Pueblo West pitcher Rucco Arguto “was better than us,” while the Cyclones scored runs in six of the seven innings.

On the mound, the Scorps struggled to throw strikes, leading to Pueblo West’s run production.

“Bryce Washburn started for us, and it was maybe the third game he’s started in his entire life. He has maybe the best stuff of anyone on the team, but he was all over the map today,” Trotter said. “Then we came in with Taylor Nakai, who was as bad as he’s ever been, but I was happy with his performance because he went out and battled the whole time.”

The final out of the top of the first inning came with concern for the Scorps.

After a great backhanded grab by shortstop Keaton Christy, Christy threw to third base to try to get the Pueblo West baserunner advancing from second. Not expecting the throw to third, the Pueblo West runner came off the bag and was caught in a run down between third and home, which resulted in a nasty collision with Farmington catcher Jac Cordova.

Pueblo West's Conner Farnsworth collides with Farmington catcher Jac Cordova on Friday during their game at Ricketts Park in Farmington.

Cordova held onto the ball for the out, and the Pueblo West player was ejected from the game.

Cordova got to his feet and slowly walked to the dugout. Had Cordova not been able to continue play, the Scorps would have needed to go to its third catcher on the depth chart, with regular starter Dominic Hines out after suffering a concussion last weekend.

The play looked to spark the Scorps, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Arguto on the mound.

“You get a good play like that where the kid holds onto the ball, and it’s exciting, but our emotions aren’t going to overcome our deficiencies offensively,” Trotter said.

Farmington got one run in the bottom of the second. After leading off the inning with a double, Ethan Secrest came in for the run after a Pueblo West error.

Farmington scored its runs in the second after a Cyclone error, then got RBIs from Ethan Secrest and Gavin Martin in the third and fourth innings, respectively.

FHS will play Colorado’s Fruita Monument in the third-place game at 2 p.m. today.

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