AZTEC – The Shiprock baseball team proved it’s no pretender in the 2016 season with a 7-5 win over Aztec Tuesday night.
Following the win, Shiprock head coach Alfred Baer said he believes it was the program’s first win over the Tigers.
“I told them yesterday, ‘We can write our own history,’” Baer said. “In my recollection, I’ve been (at Shiprock) 15 years, and we’ve never beat Aztec. Maybe back when dinosaurs roamed, they did.”
In the opening inning, Cameron Phillips led off with a single and came around to score when Aztec’s throw to second, trying to catch Pedro Tom stealing, ended up in center field.
Tom came around to score on an RBI from Arjay Miller to make it 2-0.
The Chieftains (12-1) added two more runs in the third, capped by another RBI from Miller on a two-out, full-count double to the right-field corner.
Shiprock pitcher Dylan Begay kept the Tigers (11-5) off balance and often froze the opposition by mixing in his off-speed pitches in with a strong fastball.
“We got an outstanding pitching from the get-go with Dylan Begay. He set the tone, and he’s just a sophomore,” Baer said. “He took the bull by the horns and went after them. I knew he could do it. I just needed him to believe he could do it.”
Shiprock added three runs in the fifth, all coming with two outs. Begay dropped in an RBI single, then in the next at-bat Julian Aspaas took the first pitch he saw to left field for an RBI.
Following a Zander Dale walk, Dale found himself too far off of first base and was caught in a rundown. He was eventually tagged out, but not before the runner from third scored to make it 7-0.
“We’ve got to take care of the mistakes, because we made a thousand mistakes tonight,” Aztec head coach Wes Laplatt said. “They were mental lapses, over and over again tonight.”
But the Tigers never gave up.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Cody Smith drew a walk to load the bases for Steele Justis. Justice drove the ball to right field for a bases-clearing triple, and when the Chieftains tried to throw Justis out at third, the throw was off target, and Justis scored and make it 7-5.
Aztec had a chance to extend the game in the bottom of the seventh, getting runners on first and second with two outs, but Shiprock’s Phillips, who came on in relief of Begay in the fifth innings, got Justis to ground out to end the game.
Shiprock will play a doubleheader at Thoreau on Thursday to open play in District 1-4A.
Aztec 13, Bayfield, Colo. 12
After the top of the first inning, it didn’t look good for Aztec, with Bayfield, Colo., (4-3) sending 13 batters to the plate en route to a 10-run inning. But the Tigers never let up and battled back to walk off with a 13-12 win.
“It’s really nice to see that will to keep fighting,” Laplatt said. “I think that’s something rare to see in kids today.”
Down 12-10 with runners on first and second in the bottom of the seventh, Jake Taylor hit a fly ball to right field. Bayfield’s Taed Heydinger appeared to lose the ball in the sun, and it dropped a few paces to his right and rolled to the wall. The two baserunners came around to score, tying the game at 12-12, but Bayfield’s throw to the plate to get the second Tiger was wide and reached the backstop.
The mistake gave Taylor time to take off for home and slide head-first to the plate for the winning run.
Aztec will open its District 1-5A schedule on Saturday, traveling to Gallup to challenge Miyamura (10-5).
Kirtland Central 12, Navajo Prep 2
The Kirtland Central softball team (9-7) took care of business Tuesday, cruising past Navajo Prep (6-5) 12-2 at Navajo Prep.
“We got on a roll putting the ball in play,” said KC head coach Cody Gilmore, whose team hit .438 in the win. “It was pretty good (hitting) up and down the lineup. It was pretty good day all around.”
Andrea Weaver earned the win despite Gilmore saying she struggled to find the strike zone during stretches of the game, walking six batters.
“I don’t know if the wind played a factor in it, but she got the job done,” Gilmore said.
KC will host Zuni (4-7) for a doubleheader on Thursday.
Prep will play at Wingate’s tournament on Friday and Saturday. The Lady Eagles’ first round opponent is yet to be determined.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.