Panthers avoid collapse, edge Roswell in extras
Aztec punches ticket to state quarterfinals for the first time in a decade
- Caliendo delivers walk-off RBI to lift Panthers past Roswell in extra innings
- Aztec overcomes slow start with four-run sixth inning en route to win
- Scorps battle to force decisive third game before their season came to an end
FARMINGTON – The Piedra Vista baseball team avoided collapse in its second game of a best-of-three series against Roswell in the first round of the 5A state tournament Saturday at Ricketts Park.
The fourth-seeded Panthers watched a four-run lead disappear in the top of the seventh inning, then fell behind 6-5 after the top of the eighth before Andrew Caliendo came through with a walk-off RBI single to win 7-6.
“I’m proud of them,” PV head coach Mike McGaha said of the Panthers. “We’re at the point in the season where we could split frog hairs about what we could do better or differently, but right now, we’re trying to find a way to hold on to each other and put one win together at a time regardless of how pretty or ugly it is.”
The 7-6 win gave PV the series win after the Panthers beat No. 13 Roswell 5-1 Friday. It also put PV in the state quarterfinals, where the Panthers will face No. 5 Artesia.
PV (19-9) held a 5-0 lead after five innings, but committed three errors in the top of the sixth, extending the inning and allowing the Coyotes (11-17) to score one run.
The mistakes in the sixth were a precursor to what would happen in the top of the seventh, when Roswell opened the inning with three consecutive hits on PV’s starting pitcher Fabian Magallanes.
“I felt like Roswell High had just seen Fabian too many times, but it was at the point in the game where you do don’t know if you want to run another (pitcher) out there not knowing how it’s going to work out defensively, or let the guy who has been hot all day try to get through it,” McGaha said.
Magallanes held Roswell without a hit through the first five innings, walking just two batters during that stretch.
PV gave up one run in the top of the eighth when Colton Foster, who came on in relief of Magallanes, balked in a run from third to give Roswell a 6-5 lead.
Foster made up for the balk in the bottom of the inning, driving in Deylan Pigford to tie the game at 6-6.
After back-to-back walks to Kyle Dewees and Brandon Gardenhire, led to a pitching change for Roswell, Caliendo hit a blast to the warning track in right field to bring in the winning run.
“It was good to see Andrew, after he struggled early in the game at the plate, put two really good at-bats together late in the game,” McGaha said.
PV’s Sam Moody finished the day 3 for 4 with two RBIs. Moody finished the two games against Roswell 6 for 7 with four RBIs and was praised by McGaha as the Panthers’ player of the weekend.
PV’s matchup against Artesia (15-12), which eliminated the Panthers from the state tourney in the quarterfinals last year, is scheduled for noon Thursday at St. Pius X in Albuquerque.
Aztec 7, Valencia 3
Aztec is heading to the state quarterfinals for the first time in the last decade after the sixth-seeded Tigers knocked off No. 11 Valencia 7-3 to win their best-of-three series 2-0 Saturday in Aztec.
“I thought we played well as a team. We played 15 different players in different situations, so it was a total team effort. The kids played well and took care of their role,” Aztec head coach Wes Laplatt said.
The Tigers edged the Jaguars 1-0 during the series’ first game Friday night.
After a somewhat slow start during the first three of innings, Steele Justis belted a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth to pull the Tigers even at 2-2.
“He kind of jump started us,” Laplatt said of Justis. “We hit the ball hard, just right at people early in the game, but that one got out and helped us get going.”
Aztec used long at-bats and aggressive base running to unload for four runs in the sixth inning, and take a 7-3 lead. Laplatt said the Tigers drew three walks in a row, all of which were in at-bats of eight to 11 pitches, to help their cause in the inning.
Bradley Maestas earned the win for Aztec and earned praise from Laplatt for his ability to remain in control after the Tigers made a couple of errors behind him in the first couple of innings.
“He didn’t panic and was really mature in his approach, which is what we needed. He held us together,” Laplatt said of Maestas.
Aztec will face No. 3 St. Pius X (18-8) at noon on Thursday at Eldorado High School in Albuquerque.
“We achieved a lot of our goals and there’s no reason we should play tight,” Laplatt said. “It’s all frosting from here.”
Farmington 9, Albuquerque Academy 6
Albuquerque Academy 5, Farmington 4
Farmington’s season came to an end in heartbreaking fashion Saturday.
After dropping their first game of a three-game series 6-4 to Albuquerque Academy (13-14-1) Friday, the ninth-seeded Scorps (12-17) faced a must-win situation Saturday morning and delivered, fighting off the No. 8 Chargers 9-6 to force a third and decisive game.
“It was good stuff in game one. It was high intensity and very emotional, and draining,” Farmington head coach Sean Trotter said.
The Scorps suffered a bit of a hangover after the emotional win and fell behind 5-0 going into the fifth inning of the second game.
Farmington rallied, scoring one run in the fifth and three in the sixth to get within one run.
The Scorps led off the seventh with a double, but followed that with three straight ground balls to end the game and their season.
Dominic Hines finished the first game 4 for 4 with five runs batted in.
Trotter said he is proud of how his team continued to fight and battle throughout the course of the season, and thanked his players for their effort following the game.
“They were scrappy and didn’t quit, and I let them know I appreciate that,” he said. “Once they got between the white lines, they were competitors. Hopefully, the lessons carry over for the rest of their lives. Baseball is a just a small part of life.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.