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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Diamond ‘Dogs lose final regular-season games to Hobbs

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It wasn’t quite the regular-season finale the Bulldog baseball team was hoping for.

In a windy double header against Class 6A Hobbs on the road Tuesday, the Artesia boys’ bats were sluggish following a 10-day layoff. The ‘Dogs managed just six total hits on the day, and despite holding the Eagles to a similarly low total, the lack of offense spelled the difference in 2-1 and 7-1 losses.

“We did some good things and some bad things, but we need to start doing more good things,” head coach JJ Ortiz said today. “We had a couple of errors that really hurt us, and Hobbs took advantage of them. When you’re playing these 6A schools and these better teams, that’s what they’re going to do – take advantage of your mistakes.

“We were also struggling to hit the ball a little bit, but that’s just part of baseball. Sometimes you’re going to be hitting everything, and sometimes you’re going to be missing everything – that’s just how it goes.”

After two-and-a-half scoreless innings in Tuesday’s opener, Hobbs was able to get on the board with the help of one of those aforementioned errors, a misplaced throw that allowed Adrian Serna – on with a one-out single – to score from second.

Artesia would manufacture one of their own in the top of the fourth, however, on an error and a RBI ground out from Cooper Flores to tie the game.

That 1-1 tally would then hold through the bottom of the sixth, where a leadoff walk proved as dangerous as they say, sending the beneficiary – Tyler Mendoza – home on a ground out and a Jaden Hutchins sacrifice fly.

That left the ‘Dogs with just one at-bat to answer, and despite putting two on with no outs on back-to-back singles by Taylor Null and Aaron Natera, a double play ended the threat and the game.

Null and Natera’s late-inning hits were Artesia’s only two of the contest. Junior Trent Taylor took the loss on the mound despite allowing just three hits and one earned run from the Eagles while striking out one and walking two.

Sophomore Caleb Franklin got the W for Hobbs with no earned runs and five Ks through six-and-one-third.

It was the boys in orange who would draw first blood in the nightcap, notching a run in the top of the third when Camren Saxon – aboard with a base hit – moved to third on an errant throw following a Taylor infield single, then crossed the plate on another RBI ground out by Flores.

Hobbs, however, would break the game open in the bottom of the fourth, batting around and scoring five runs on four hits.

The Bulldogs got singles from Miguel Martinez and Null in the fourth and fifth innings but were unable to produce additional runs, and Hobbs tacked on a pair for insurance purposes in the bottom of the sixth before ending the game on yet another double play.

Junior JR Bustamante took the L for Artesia with four hits, five earned runs, and six strikeouts through four. Mendoza was the winning hurler with three hits and three Ks.

“There’s no moral victories,” said Ortiz. “You either win or you lose, but the biggest thing about games like these, the thing we tell the kids, is just make sure you don’t make the same mistakes twice. And that’s how we’re going to approach it.”

With the pair of losses, the Bulldogs dropped to 7-7 on the season but will join all teams in reverting to 0-0 again as the “second season” of district play looms.

The ‘Dogs will open their District 4-AAAAA slate with a 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. double dip Tuesday in Lovington, and Ortiz and his staff hope to see the team shake off their doldrums at the plate and come out strong against the Wildcats.

“I’m happy with the first part of the season,” said the coach. “We’re 7-7, and I think every coach would want to have a better record, but we play a really tough schedule – probably one of the hardest schedules of anyone in our division. To be 7-7 with our schedule, we’re happy with it, and like I told the guys, now we’re starting the second part of our season. We can’t do anything about the games we lost – they’re all in the past, so let’s look forward, fix our mistakes, and get better for it.

“We’re really excited about starting district, and our goal is to win every game and put ourselves in a good spot for the state seeding. We’ve got everyone healthy, people are starting to play pretty good, and we’re excited about this next step.”

Brienne Green
Daily Press Editor

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