By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer

HOUSTON — The overcast skies and drizzling rain at Coastal Baseball Park did little to detract from a strong performance by both the Vaqueros and Sea Lions Saturday, with comeback by both team playing into the 9-7 Las Cruces victory.

“For the most part of the game, we’re playing good defense,” said Vaqueros coach Casey Dill. “We’re putting the ball in play on a consistent basis. We’re playing good baseball. It’s like last game. We played a good game, I think we build some confidence up and we carried it over into today. When we win games like we do, I really don’t say much to the players after the game other than, ‘Hey, great job. We’ll see you next time.’”

“Our guys played well,” agreed Sea Lions coach J.D. Droddy. “We got good pitching today. Our guys played well. That’s all you can ask. They kept battling. We kept battling and we ended up on the short end of the stick but I told my guys, I’m proud of them. They played well.”

Starters Austin Carden (Vaqueros) and James Coon (Galvestion) kept the game scoreless through three, with Coon striking out seven and Carden six. To give himself a chance to evaluate two new pitchers, Droddy pulled Coon after three, but Justin Willis — who got lost on his way to the not-easy-to-find ballpark — struggled, walking two with Carden scoring the first run on a sac fly by Effrain Garcia.

Jared Roland then came in and closed out the inning, but he struggled in the fifth, walking Jeff Goulet then seeing Travis Fuquay reach on an error. Cody Langham then walked and all three came home on a big double by Edison Alvarez, who came in on a single by Carden, making it 5-0.

The Lions came back in the bottom of the stanza, scoring three on a Carl Roscoe single and RBI triple by nine-hole hitter James Hall. Carden then walked Frank Florio, and on a bike swinging strike by Phillip Roscoe, both stole, Hall scoring. Florio then came home on a double by Derick Dominguez.

Las Cruces came back in the sixth with two. With one out, Fuquay was hit, and Langham, Alvarez and Carden each singled.

But a 7-3 deficit didn’t seem to faze the Lions. Facing off against reliever Brandon Bown, Edgar Quintana and Bryce Miller both doubled. Quintana scored and Carl Roscoe reached on an error that put runners at first and third. On another double steal attempt, Roscoe was safe but Miller out after barrelling into catcher Adam Ziegler, who injured his thumb on the play and had to leave the game.

Brown struck out the next batter, but Hall walked and Florio tripled before coming home on a single by Phillip Roscoe that tied the game at 7-7.

The seventh inning saw the Vaqueros come back on a two out walk to Goulet, double by Fuquay and 2 RBI single by Langham. Fuquay pitched for Las CRuces in the final inning, getting three quick outs to preserve the victory.

“I think we built up some confidence and I think we got some good momentum going and we’re just going to try to keep rolling through the rest of this league with that momentum,” Dill said.

Langham led the Vaqueros offensively, going 3-for-4 with two runs and 2 RBI. Carden was 3-for-2 with 1 run scored and 2 RBI and Alvarez was 2-for-5 with 3 RBI and a run scored.

“I told my guys I’m very proud of them,” Dill said. “They did play well. Nothing to hang their head about today because we played baseball.”

Phillip Roscoe was 2-for-3 with 1 RBI for the Lions.

Sitting in second place behind Houston with two more games remaining in the Spring League, Dill decided to talk some smack.

“Two more. We’ll hopefully finish strong,” he said. “Hopefully (Apollo manager) Andrew (Dunn) loses two and we win two and I know he’s got a 10-foot trophy somewhere that he’s hoping to give to himself. We’re hoping to take that back to Las Vegas with us and Andrew will be severely disappointed but I’ve got no problem with that.”

Those final games will be Monday and Tuesday.