Shiprock falls 8-6 to Cobre in opener
BLOOMFIELD – Bloomfield's Chauncey White had a great game on the mound when his baseball team defeated Kirtland Central for the district championship a week ago. In the first round of the 4A state tournament on Friday, he was even better.
White gave up three hits, three walks, had five strikeouts and allowed no runs in a complete-game effort as the Bobcats (17-10) took the first game of a best-of-three set from KC 4-0 at John Gutierrez Field.
He punched out 10 batters in the district title game, but White also gave up a pair of runs. He said he got the big-game jitters out of his system in that game.
"I was just relaxing more on the mound, more than last time I pitched against them," White said. "This time, I was just taking deep breaths, relaxing, hitting spots. And I had my curveball working."
White, a senior, wasn't hit hard at all. He gave up one extra-base hit and only allowed one Bronco runner to touch third base in the contest. Bloomfield coach Frank DeHoyos said White was on top of his game on Friday.
"He had a little bit of a fire in his eyes today, and he was like, 'I'm gonna go get it,'" DeHoyos said. "If you watch our baseball team, when that guy's on the mound for us, they feel that confidence, and they think they're pretty good."
Bloomfield's defense did its part with no errors behind White, who helped himself with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the second inning. He would come around to score on a Luke Deifenbaugh RBI double just one pitch later.
The Broncos (16-11) sent Zach Van Duren out to the hill, and the junior had an up-and-down outing with three strikeouts, eight hits, one free pass and three runs allowed. The Bobcats teed off on Van Duren in the fifth inning with three hard-hit balls in a row — a sharp single from Brendon Charley, an RBI triple from Orlando Frias and an RBI double off the bat of Humberto Miramontes.
KC coach Bryan Wardroup said he thought Van Duren left a pitch up in the zone against Miramontes.
"What I told him when I pulled him was that RBI double was a changeup that he left up," Wardroup said. "It's a missed location by six inches. He gets it down six inches, I think the kid swings through it, and it's a whole different ballgame."
Miramontes struck out in his first two at-bats before his soaring blast into left-center field put his team ahead by four runs in the fifth. DeHoyos said Miramontes has been scuffling at the plate recently but looked good on that swing.
"He was overthinking some things and putting a lot of pressure on himself, so we told him to clear his mind this week," DeHoyos said. "Bottom line, it's a rhythm game. Have good rhythm with your feet and try and square up on the baseball, and he did it there for us."
The Broncos and Bobcats play game two at 11 a.m. today. If necessary, game three will be played at 1 p.m.
Cobre 8, Shiprock 6
When Shiprock has lost this season, it has lost in gut-wrenching fashion.
Four of the Chieftains' six losses this year have come after they held a lead, which was the case on Friday, as they coughed up a 4-3 advantage and fell 8-6 to Cobre on the road in the opening game of their first-round 4A state tournament series.
Offensively, Shiprock (20-6) was solid with nine hits in the game. It was on defense where the Chieftains sputtered, specifically in the bottom of the sixth inning.
A couple of miscues in the outfield kicked off a domino effect in the sixth, which saw Cobre (17-9) score five times. Chieftains coach Alfred Baer said he's seen a sloppy inning like Friday's sixth far too often this season.
"It's like we've done all year — play well to a point and then let a couple misplayed balls contribute to a rally (from the opposition)," Baer said. "We make some mistakes, and that puts guys in scoring position where just a base knock or two can do some damage. That's basically what happened."
Pedro Tom and Dylan Begay gave Shiprock a glimmer of hope with an RBI apiece in the top of the seventh, but that's all the Chieftains could muster.
"I was hoping we could get the lead back there in the seventh after our first two guys reached base," Baer said. "But the fire went out after that."
The second game of the series starts at 10 a.m. today. If Shiprock can win that one, game three takes place at noon.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.