Rivercats hold off late rally for 8-7 win

Karl Schneider
Rivercats' Grant Bessey pitches against the Pumpjacks on Monday at the Farmington Sports Complex.

FARMINGTON — The Rivercats were tested in their Connie Mack City Tournament opener but managed to come back from an early deficit and hold off a seventh-inning rally from the Pumpjacks for an 8-7 victory tonight at the Farmington Sports Complex.

Rivercats head coach Mike McGaha used four pitchers in the game as the pitching staff struggled to throw strikes.

"I believe we walked seven and hit one batter. I know four, maybe five, of those seven came around to score," McGaha said. "I think we came off of the weekend with a tournament jetlag. I felt like we were a little bit sluggish to start the game, but we settled in OK."

The Pumpjacks held a 4-1 lead after four innings, but head coach Nick Clayton said the Rivercats came through with key hits on pitches that were left up in the zone to tie the game at 4-4.

The score remained tied at 4-4 until the seventh inning when the Rivercats’ Elijah Gamboa hit a two-run home run, his second homer of the game. The Rivercats scored two more in the inning to give themselves an 8-4 cushion.

The Rivercats congratulate Elijah Gamboa after he hit a home run against the Pumpjacks on Monday at the Farmington Sports Complex.

In the bottom of inning, Kenyon Lusk belted a three-run home run to bring the Pumpjacks within one run with only one out in the inning. But Rivercats’ relief pitcher Tyler Mead struck out the next two batters on six pitches to end the game.

"I was impressed with our effort and the game we played," Clayton said. "It was just one of those games that fell their way."

The Pumpjacks will now face elimination when they play the Halos at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Ricketts Park.

The Rivercats stay on the top side of the bracket and will face Strike Zone at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Ricketts Park.

Fuel 4, Naa’taanii 0

The Fuel might be young, but they showed everyone in the Connie Mack City Tournament that they can’t be taken lightly. The team rolled to a 4-0 win over Naa’taanii during the first round of the tourney this evening at Ricketts Park.

Mason Mayes pitched a complete game for the Fuel, commanding the strike zone through all seven innings.

"As young as we are, we made some mental mistakes, but the kids overall played well," Fuel head coach Kim Carpenter said. "Mason pitched lights out. He put the ball everywhere we wanted him to. He’s a competitor and has so much to provide to the game. We executed, scored runs and capitalized on (Naa’taanii’s) mistakes. I’m proud of the way the kids played."

Pumpjacks' Dylan Begay pitches against the Rivercats on Monday at the Farmington Sports Complex.

The Fuel took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, scoring runs on a wild pitch and an Isaiah Royce RBI single.

The Fuel added another run in the second on a Dominic Hines RBI, then one more in the fourth when Hines scored from third on a passed ball.

Throughout the game, Naa’taanii struggled to get going at the plate.

"We just didn’t play well. Sometimes, that's the way it goes," Naa’taanii head coach Dineh Benally said. "Give credit to the Fuel — their pitcher did his job and got us out."

The Fuel will play the KC Storm at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Ricketts Park.

Naa’taanii will play the 4-Corners ClubSox at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Farmington Sports Complex.

Flat Bill Ducks 13, Halos 2

The Flat Bill Ducks took care of business in their first round game of the Connie Mack City Tournament, blasting the Halos 13-2 tonight at the Farmington Sports Complex.

Flat Bill starting pitcher Derek Jung gave up one run in the first inning, but settled down to pitch the rest of the game.

"He just had to settle in a little bit. The nerves of pitching in the City Tournament kind of got to him in the first inning," Flat Bill head coach Brett Alexander said. "After that, he threw the ball really well, and we played clean behind him. We made some really spectacular plays in the outfield and some nice plays in the infield. It helped him when he realized the defense was playing well behind him."

Alexander said the Ducks had production throughout the lineup, with Gabe Valdez leading the way with a three-RBI performance.

The Halos fall to the bottom side of the bracket and will face the Pumpjacks in an elimination game 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Farmington Sports Complex.

With the win, Flat Bill receives a bye during the second round and will play the winner of Tuesday's Fuel vs. the KC Storm on Wednesday at Ricketts Park.

"It’s good to get a little bit of rest when you can. I’d like to have the bye on Wednesday or Thursday and be able to build some momentum off of today's 13-run performance, but that’s the way the bracket is," Alexander said. "We’ll use the time to rest, so hopefully we can play deep into the tournament."

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