Santa Fe High's strong pitching and clutch hitting may lead the way in Saturday's Jim Pierce Memorial championship game against Taos, at St. Michaels
Host St. Michael's falls to Cobre, 5-4, in contest for third place, Pojoaque placed fifth and Espanola Valley seventh
By ARNIE LESHIN
Pitching is perhaps the main strength of the current edition of the Santa Fe High baseball team, that and clutch hitting and an attitude that brings confidence.
With this, the Demons won their eighth in 11 starts by being the best in the field at the annual Jim Pierce Memorial baseball tournament played at St. Michael's. They took a close one, 4-3, over Taos in Saturday's final.
True, it's pre-6A time and head coach Anthony Martinez' team comes off victories over three 4A schools, but it doesn't matter when you are playing well.
It was sophomore right-hander Manny Martinez who began the stellar pitching by shutting down Bernalillo, 6-0, in the first round of the 8-school field. Next, it was right-handed senior Jacob Romero also turning in a good start in the win over the host Horsemen.
That left it up to junior righty Izaiah Apodaca in relief. He relieved junior righty James Catanach with no out in the fourth inning and a 2-0 lead. But the Tigers managed to tie the score at 2-all with a two-run single off of Apodoca.
The Demons had grabbed the early advantage with the help of Catanach's bat. His RBI single in the opening frame scored Manny Martinez. Next, sophomore Alan Schmidt brought home the second run with his fielder's choice hit back to the mound that scored Catanach.
But again Taos (3-3) knotted the score in the last of the fourth when Apodaca gave up a run-scoring single to Daniel Aguilar, than Santa Fe High answered back with what proved to be the game-winning run in the fifth when senior Jacob Martinez singled and came around on Catanach's double off the fence in right field.
The Demons yielded only seven runs in the three games, with Apodaca coming on to hurl four strong scoreless innings.
St. Michael's (6-5) was defeated, 5-4, by Cobre (3-4) for third place. The Horsemen scored three times in the third inning behind the hitting of seniors Curtis Rogers and Will Brandt. Junior Sean Latham pitched the distance for the host school.
Fifth place went to Pojoaque Valley (3-5) with a 2-0 zip over Bernalillo, dropping the Spartans to 5-6. Elks starter Nate Aguilar had his no-hit bid end in the last frame when Bernalillo clean-up batter Carlos Duran singled on the first pitch.
Espanola Valley (2-6) came away with seventh place by getting past Raton, 6-5, on a walk-off, two-run error in the final inning. The Tigers fell to 2-4.