Bloomfield eliminates KC, Shiprock gets swept
FARMINGTON – Bloomfield ended the season of a scrappy Kirtland Central baseball team on Saturday and will now move on to the quarterfinals of the 4A state tournament.
The No. 10 Broncos repeatedly battled back from a deficit they were mired in since the second inning, but No. 7 Bloomfield (18-10) was too much for the visitors, winning 10-7 and completing the two-game sweep at John Gutierrez Field in Bloomfield.
Kirtland Central (16-12) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second, its only lead of the day. Bloomfield responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning and had to constantly stave off its upstart rivals for the rest of the game.
"I told my guys that the scariest part about another baseball team — and in life in general — is someone with their back against the wall," Bobcats coach Frank DeHoyos said. "That's the fifth, sixth, 700th time we've played Kirtland Central this year? And that's a good team over there. Coach (Bryan) Wardroup's done a hell of a job."
Juniors Adriano Stevenson and Brendon Charley handled pitching duties for the Bobcats. Stevenson was decent through five innings with only two earned runs to his name before fatigue set in and Charley was called on to close.
Down 8-4 in the top of the fifth, the Broncos capitalized on an Orlando Frias throwing error to bring two runners around to score. KC tacked on another run in the sixth to make it an 8-7 game, but it was Frias and Kenyon Lusk who came up clutch with RBI singles apiece in the sixth to put the game on ice.
Wardroup said his offense was much better than it was on Friday when it was kept off the scoreboard, but it still didn't make the most of every opportunity.
"We had some big hits in big situations, but then we left guys on base in other situations that could have resulted in much bigger innings," Wardroup said. "There was a lot of questionable officiating, too, but we couldn't do much about that. I'm proud of the way my boys kept battling."
Down three in the top of the seventh, KC refused to go away. Zach Van Duren had a chance to tie the game with two on and two out, but the junior hit a deep fly ball that was caught near the warning track for the final out of KC's season.
"Zach got under it a little bit," Wardroup said.
It wasn't the finish the Broncos scripted, but following an eight-win improvement from 2015, Wardroup said this year was only the beginning for Kirtland Central baseball.
"I told our four seniors, if nothing else, you were here for the beginning of the culture change," he said. "This is going to be the first of many good seasons here. We've got 16 of 20 guys coming back next year, and I'm very energetic and very optimistic to see where our program goes from here."
The Bobcats will face No. 2 Portales at 10 a.m. Thursday in Rio Rancho in a rematch of last year's quarterfinal, one that Bloomfield won 11-1. DeHoyos said he's wiping the slate clean ahead of the trip to Rio Rancho.
"This was a tough series, we survived it, and now it's on to Portales, who probably didn't forget about Chauncey (White's) homer that run-ruled them last year," DeHoyos said. "The best thing about state baseball is, you can take the rankings and throw them out the window and say, 'Let's go play.'"
Cobre 8, Shiprock 1
Shiprock's 2016 season came to a close on Saturday when it was beaten for the second day in a row by No. 6 Cobre in the 4A state tournament.
Chris Dominguez started on the mound for the Indians and he was masterful in holding the No. 11 Chieftains (20-7) to one run on five hits. Cobre's bats held up their end of the bargain, as well, as visiting Shiprock fell 8-1 and was swept out of the playoffs in the opening round for the second consecutive season.
Shiprock coach Alfred Baer said mental lapses plagued the team all season long, including during Cobre's four-run, second-inning rally.
"A couple of balls fell in the outfield that we needed to be catching. One (ball) drops, and two runs score," Baer said. "We've got to be a whole lot stronger mentally next season. Some of us are taking plays off, and those plays are killing us."
Cobre (18-9) scored four runs in the second, two in the fourth and two in the fifth. Cameron Phillips started for the Chieftains and was responsible for the first six Cobre runs.
Shiprock's only run of the game came courtesy of Dylan Begay's fifth-inning RBI single to drive in Chance Harvey, who hit a ground-rule double in the previous at-bat.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.