Bobcats bust Bears' home hopes
Written by: Joel Priest
The sporting adage holds that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
But when two competing teams finish equally strong, as the Ignacio Bobcats and host Dolores Bears did Tuesday afternoon, the start of one often determines the finish for both.
So despite the fact that the Bears scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to match the visitors’ three in the top half, it was IHS’ output six frames before that proved the difference in a 9-6 non-league win on Gonzales Field at Joe Rowell Park.
“You’ve got to get on them early,” commented senior first baseman Scott Hill.
With leadoff man Lawrence Bartley, Jr., and three-man Derek Rodriguez aboard, following Bartley’s single to left and a walk to Rodriguez, cleanup man Brandon Cundiff powered an Andrew Hill offering over the leftfield fence to give Ignacio a 3-0 lead after half an inning.
Winning the early test of starting righty pitchers, junior Zach Bartley (W; 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER) needed just 12 pitches to sit the Bears down in order in the latter half of the first, while Hill (L; 3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 K) threw 26 before escaping.
“I thought my control was pretty good,” said Bartley, “and I was hitting my locations.”
Bartley also hit more than just catcher Antonio Herrera’s mitt. In an unusual occurrence, he actually beaned more batters than he struck out (a 4:3 ratio), as the Dolores players were content to crowd the plate and rarely attempted to dodge his deliveries.
Still, unwilling to concede the inner half of the strike zone, Bartley continued battling and stranded more runners in scoring position than his counterpart (a 4:1 ratio). Moved to the field as Cundiff worked the fourth/fifth innings, Bartley also provided key defense to foil another DHS rally.
Playing third base after the switch, Bartley fielded a one-out chopper between second and third. Rather than waiting for Bartley to throw to first, DHS senior first baseman Geoff Roberson made a break for the vacated bag, only to run into a patient Bartley tag. Bartley then completed the 5-3 DP with the toss to Hill, retiring catcher Kenny Joseph and preserving Ignacio’s 5-3 lead through five.
“We’re getting better,” said IHS head coach Lawrence Bartley, Sr., “but we’re still making our ‘boo-boo’s’ with our batting. But we’re getting better out there and we’ll play [Dolores] down in Shiprock, so I think we can go out and get them again.”
Offensively for the Bobcats (2-2 overall; 0-0 3A Intermountain), Cundiff went 1-4, drove in three, and scored twice. Rodriguez went 1-3 with an RBI double, two stolen bases, and three runs scored. Bartley, Jr. was an efficient table-setter, going 3-4 with an RBI, while brother Zach hit 1-4 including a sacrifice fly in the seventh to score Cundiff. Senior leftfielder Skyler Mirabal went 2-4, scored in the sixth on Bartley’s final single, and plated Herrera with a single to right in the seventh to end IHS’ scoring.
Roberson and second baseman Bobby Martin each went 2-4 for Dolores, but scored only once between them. Hill (1-4) and shortstop Brett Brunner (1-3) each scored twice as the 2A Bears dropped their 2007 home opener, falling to 1-3 overall.
UP NEXT: The Bobcats will play in the Shiprock (N.M.) Chieftains’ three-day, eight-team tournament this weekend. Play officially commenced yesterday, with the same Bears providing first opposition in the opening 8:00 a.m. game. A win leads to a berth in today’s 1:30 p.m. winners’ semifinals, while a loss means another 8 a.m. eye-opener in the consolation bracket.
The championship will be decided tomorrow afternoon.