Pumpjacks eyeing the pinnacle of city league

Karl Schneider

FARMINGTON — Connie Mack City League play is underway again and a mixed-and-matched group of young area players, the Pumpjacks, is looking to climb to the apex of the league.

The Pumpjacks are part of the Strike Zone organization, and the roster includes multiple players from Bloomfield, Farmington and Shiprock, as well as players from Colorado’s Montezuma-Cortez and Ignacio. Most of the players are set to return to their respective high school teams for the 2017 season, but their youth hasn’t deterred them from setting goals of winning the City Tournament and hosting the Connie Mack World Series later this summer.

Anthony Manzanares comes up with the ball during the game between the Pumpjacks and the Rivercats on Tuesday at Ricketts Park.

“We want to go to the Connie Mack World Series — that’s our goal,” Pumpjacks coach Nick Clayton said. “I really believe in this team. This is only our third time getting out on the field as a unit, and we’ve had some good practices. We’ll grow throughout the summer, and we’re going to be a good team that will battle for that championship.”

The team doesn’t need to look back far to find confidence that any team can make a run at the City Tournament title after last year saw the 14ers, who were made up of Bayfield, Colo.’s high school roster, lose a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning of title game.

“We definitely have a mentality that anyone can win it. It’s not out of reach for anyone,” Clayton said.

With such a young roster, Clayton said he’ll look to recent Ignacio graduate Anthony Manzanares, who will play shortstop for the team, for leadership.

Manzanares said the players are still getting to know each other on and off the field, but he’s excited about the potential the group has shown.

“It’s been good. We all get along well, and right when I came on (the team), I felt at home right away,” Manzanares said. “We’re coming together, and for our third time playing together, I think we’re doing pretty good, but we still have a lot of stuff we need to work on.”

Manzanares added that the key facets the team will need to improve on during the summer are hitting and communication, which will come with more time on the field to build trust in teammates.

Brendon Charley pitches for the Pumpjacks during a game against the Rivercats on May 24 at Ricketts Park.

Clayton will also look for leadership from Bloomfield’s Brendon Charley, who will enter his senior year in the fall. Clayton said Charley’s experience as a leader and key player in three sports at Bloomfield — quarterback of the football team, starting forward on the basketball team, and regular starter on the mound and in the outfield for the baseball team — will be valuable during the summer season.

While Manzanares and Charley are two players Clayton wants to take charge on a regular basis, he also expects everyone on the team to step into a leadership role as the season goes on and they work toward their championship goals.

“We’re pretty much a rag-tag group of guys, but when we learn to come together, I think we’ll be right there,” Charley said. “We have a lot of good talent, and once we come together, it’s going to be good.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.