FARMINGTON – Everything now comes down to Saturday in the race for the District 1-5A baseball title.
Three teams — Aztec, Farmington and Piedra Vista — sit with two losses in district play after Thursday’s games, which saw the Tigers knock off PV 7-6 at Ricketts Park and the Scorps gash Gallup 28-1 in Gallup.
Thursday’s win was the final game of the regular season for the Tigers while Farmington and PV will play each other at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Aztec (18-7, 6-2) took advantage of mistakes by the Panthers (17-9, 5-2) in the first inning, jumping to a 4-0 lead after the top half of the inning.
“PV made a few mistakes early, and we took advantage of it,” Aztec head coach Wes Laplatt said. “Then, later in the game, they made their charge, and we made some good plays to hang on. It was a fun ball game.”
PV walked two batters, committed three errors and gave up two hits in the first.
Aztec added to its lead in the second and third, and led 7-0 after the third.
Beau Crawford started on the mound for the Tigers, pitching five innings, before Bradley Maestas came on in relief and Kyler Duggins closed the game for the save.
“Beau Crawford did a great job. He hasn’t pitched a lot of us this year, but he went out there and kept them off balance,” Laplatt said.
PV went through two pitchers in the first three innings before Colton Foster came in and pitched four scoreless innings.
After losing to Miyamura on Tuesday, Thursday’s loss marks the first time since 2008 that PV has lost two games in district play. Panthers head coach Mike McGaha accepted responsibility for that.
“I don’t know that I can put the blame on anything other than myself. I’m obviously failing at preparing them well enough to be successful. We’re 16-9, and we’ve lost five one-run games this season, and I can’t seem to get them over the hump,” McGaha said. “You can make all kinds of excuses, but ultimately, it all falls back on coach McGaha. I’m not getting them ready, and I’m failing in those areas.”
The Tigers now wait to learn their seed in the 5A state tournament. The brackets will be released on Sunday, and Laplatt said he plans to give the team a few days off to rest and get healthy before the tournament.
PV now turns its focus to Farmington. If the Panthers win, they’ll win the district. If they lose, they’ll finish third.
“Bottom line, just like Miyamura and Aztec these last two games, we’re going to get Farmington High School's absolute best effort,” McGaha said. “And if we don’t put our best effort on the table, we’re going to end up third in the district. Period.”
Farmington 28, Gallup 1
Farmington (11-14, 5-2) racked up 20 hits — with all but one pinch hitter recording a hit — en route to a 28-1 win over Gallup (5-21, 0-7) Thursday in Gallup.
“I’m happy we could go out from pitch one and hit some balls hard, and we played solid defensively,” Farmington head coach Sean Trotter said. “I’m very happy with the way we went out defensively, and offensively.”
Cody Becenti finished the day 4 for 6 and Dominic Martinez went 3 for 5.
Martinez also earned the win on the mound for the Scorps. In his five innings of work, the senior gave up two hits while striking out five.
Heading into Saturday’s game against PV, Trotter said he will stress playing baseball rather than focusing on the opponent.
“We know it’s a huge game for Piedra Vista, and obviously for us. We’re crosstown rivals and they beat us up the last time,” Trotter said, referencing PV’s 12-2 win over the Scorps on April 19. “It’s the last game of the year, and, hopefully, we get some people out to Ricketts to watch the game.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.