AZTEC – Kyler Duggins was masterful for Aztec during the first game of the Tigers’ three-game playoff series against Valencia.
The junior lefty pitched a complete game, giving up just two hits to help push No. 6 Aztec past the No. 11 Jaguars 1-0 Friday night in Aztec.
“Kyler was awesome. He had great stuff and threw first-pitch strikes. He only threw 70 pitches and pitched to contact,” Aztec head coach Wes Laplatt said. “He was absolutely awesome, and we rode him.”
The two sides traded errors in the first inning to help each put two runners on with one out, but in both instances, the defenses got out of the inning without any damage.
With one out in the bottom of the third, Derek Baca ripped a double down the third-base line to put the Tigers in position to put a run on the board. But Valencia pitcher Daniel Cable struck out the next two Tigers to get out of the inning.
Aztec broke the scoreless drought in the bottom of the fourth inning. Cody Smith led off the inning with a shot down the third-base line and advanced to third after Valencia left fielder Dalton Moya slipped while trying to pick up the ball.
Two batters later, Sebastian McNeal hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Smith and give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
“I feel like, the way Kyler was pitching, and the kids knew it, we only needed one run,” Laplatt said. “When you say you only need one run in high school baseball, that’s something amazing.”
After Valencia’s Cauy Abeita drew a walk to lead off the top of the fifth, the Jaguars (14-13) bunted him over to third, but Duggins got out of the inning unscathed.
Aztec (19-7) threatened to add another run in the bottom of the sixth after a leadoff double from Smith. But the Tigers couldn’t bring him around, making it the third inning in which they put a runner in scoring position with one or no outs but came up empty.
“We have to do better hitting the ball in scoring position. We had a couple of doubles and triples that we didn’t push across. We have to get those across,” Laplatt said.
Aztec and Valencia will play the second game of the series at 10 a.m. today with the third game following immediately, if needed.
Laplatt said Bradley Maestas will get the start on the mound, and the biggest message to his team will be taking advantage of its offensive opportunities.
“We have to get more traffic (on the bases) and put more pressure on (Valencia),” he said. “We have to play better on the offensive side.”
Piedra Vista 5, Roswell 1
Piedra Vista picked up a key win in the opening game of its three-game series of the 5A playoffs, shutting down Roswell 5-1 Friday afternoon at Ricketts Park.
Aside from one error in the top of the first inning that led to an unearned run for Roswell (11-16) the Panthers (18-9) played a clean game behind pitcher Orlan Warren.
Warren pitched a complete game for PV, giving up four hits and three walks, two of which resulted in the PV defense turning a double play.
“In the last few weeks, when we’d walk a guy with nobody on base, we’d follow it up with an error. Today, both of those walks were followed up by a ground ball that we rolled the double play to get out of the jam or the inning,” PV head coach Mike McGaha said.
The Panthers got the bulk of their offensive production from the bottom of the lineup. Eight- and nine-hole hitters Colton Foster and Sam Moody combined to go 5 for 6 with Moody driving in Foster twice.
After giving up the unearned run in the first, PV scored three runs in the second, who of which came when Roswell’s catcher tried to pick off Moody on third, throwing from home to third, but the throw ended up in left field. The mishap allowed Moody to score easily, and Kyle Dewees, who was initially stealing second, hustled around the bases to score, as well.
Fabian Magallanes will start for PV in game two of the series, which is set for 11 a.m. today at Ricketts Park.
Albuquerque Academy 6, Farmington 4
Farmington had plenty of opportunities to knock off Albuquerque Academy in the first game of its playoff series, but the Scorps stranded nine runners on base en route to a 6-4 loss Friday in Albuquerque.
“We saw (Thomas) Braybrooks on the mound, and he was very good. He gave up eight hits and three walks, but he made some big pitches in key situations, and that was the difference in the game,” Farmington head coach Sean Trotter said. “We had a couple of baserunning mistakes, but really, he was better than us today.”
Trotter said the Scorps gave themselves a chance to win — essentially matching Academy’s offense with eight hits compared to the Chargers’ nine — but Academy found ways to score and only left four runners on base.
Farmington (11-16) gave up two runs in the first and second innings, then held the Chargers (12-13-1) scoreless until the sixth when they added two more runs.
Farmington got one run in the first and fifth innings, then added two in the top of the seventh.
Keaton Christy will get the start in the second game of the series, scheduled for 11 a.m. today, with Dominic Martinez scheduled for the third game, if necessary.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.