The Bulldog baseball team had their plans of a clean sweep Tuesday at Coke Field in Roswell thwarted by a two-hit showing in Game One. It was a frustrating loss to say the least and could easily have taken the squad mentally out of the game in the nightcap.
But the boys in orange buckled down and battled through a pair of ties to take an 11th-hour lead in Game Two, then held it through a two-out rally attempt by the Coyotes in their final at-bat. The result was a split by identical scores of 3-2 that left Artesia a bit down but in no way out as they look ahead to Round Two of District 4-AAAAA play.
“When the other team makes five errors, you should win the game,” head coach Lee Johnson said today, effectively summing up the complexion of Tuesday’s opener for the Bulldogs.
After bounding out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first on a passed ball and an error, it looked as though the ‘Dogs were setting the pace. But a double-steal on a miscommunication by the Artesia defense and a RBI single by Garrison Kyser saw the Coyotes tie things up in the home half, then take a 3-2 lead in the second on an unearned run.
That would comprise the extent of Roswell’s scoring on the day, leaving the door wide open for a Bulldog comeback. But it wasn’t to be, as the ‘Dogs left five stranded through the seventh with another three put out on the basepaths via an attempted steal of second, a tag-up between second and third, and a pickoff at first.
“We just couldn’t capitalize with runners in scoring position again,” Johnson said. “We played okay defense, but they just hit a few more than we did, and that was the difference in the game.”
Pitcher Cody Fuentes allowed just five Coyote hits and two earned runs through six complete, striking out five, and Taylor Null and Tristan Bowden accounted for Artesia’s two hits on the contest. Nick Palomino got the win on the hill for the Coyotes with two hits and no earned runs allowed.
“I thought our pitchers in both games pitched really well last night,” said Johnson. “Other teams are going to get some hits most of the time, but our defense was adequate. It was just the bats. You can’t have two hits and win too many games.”
The Bulldogs again took the initial lead in Game Two Tuesday as Carlos Carrasco singled to lead off, then scored on a two-base error. But from there, the ‘Dogs managed just one other hit through five complete, and Roswell was able to tie things up in the third on a Chris Carpenter single.
A leadoff walk by Jharyss Granger in the top of six proved crucial, as Bowden sac-bunted the junior’s pinch runner, Daniel Moncada, to second and Carrasco plated him with a base hit up the middle. The Coyotes were able to answer again, however, in the sixth on a throwing error.
It looked as though the bout might be headed for extra innings when a one-out single to left by Fuentes resulted in a runner on first with two away following a fly ball. But pinch hitter Miguel Martinez would pop one into left to move Fuentes to second, and a big double by Bowden saw the winning run home.
The Coyotes put the tying run on second in the home half with two away on a two-base throwing error, but a strikeout by freshman reliever JR Bustamonte ended the threat and the game.
Bustamonte got the win on the hill with one hit, no earned runs, and four strikeouts through three innings of work. Granger had four hits, one run, and five Ks as the starter through four. At the plate, Carrasco finished 2-4 with one RBI, Bowden 1-3 with a double and one run batted in, and Martinez 1-1.
“I was pleased with the way our kids hung in there that second game and found a way to win,” said Johnson. “We were finally able to string two or three hits together, and good things happen when you can get your hitters to do that.”
With the split, the Bulldogs moved to 9-10 on the season, 4-2 in district play. They’ll kick off the second round Friday with a 5 and 7 p.m. double header in Lovington, then head to Goddard Tuesday for a rematch with the Rockets before closing out the second season at home April 29 against the Coyotes.
“We’re going to go back to work today and tomorrow, just keep swinging the bats in practice and trying to improve what we’re not doing well,” Johnson said. “Last night is going to make it a little harder for us. But our destiny’s still in our own hands. We don’t have to worry about anybody but ourselves, and if we can win out, we’ll probably be the district champs.
“With that said, it’s going to be a tough chore. But it’s doable. We’re looking forward to getting started Friday in Lovington and hopefully coming away with two wins there.”