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Blizzard power their way past Fuego in season opener

5/16/2013-
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer

TAOS — The first ever professional game played on the Taos Tundra saw balls fly long and far Wednesday as the home team defeated Santa Fe 16-6.

There were three home runs on the day — two by Fuego Josh Barnett and Devonte Odoms and one by Blizzard Cody Coffman. There were also four doubles and two triples, and Taos manager Matt Leahy said that’s part of the home-field advantage in the Tundra.

“The way the wind whips off the mountain or goes off the mountain we can set up our lineup accordingly with lefties or righties and as you saw today, the ball just flies out of here,” he said.

The early innings were close, with Taos going up 1-0 in the bottom of the first when Blair Springfield walked and came home on an Eric McGee double.

The Fuego tied it in the third on Barnett’s solo home run, but Taos broke it open in the bottom of the fifth, scoring five runs on two singles, two doubles, a walk and a hit batter.

Santa Fe added a pair in the fifth off reliever Tyler Stucky, who couldn’t seem to find the plate, walking five on only one out before Adam Shopick got the seventh batter of the inning to hit into a double play.

Both teams scored one in the sixth — making it 7-4 — but then Taos added five more in the seventh and four in the eighth, and although Santa FE added another pair in the top of the stanza — a Bryson Sims double was followed by Odom’s home run — it wasn’t enough, and that lack of consistence was what had Fuego manager Bill Moore a bit unhappy.

“We need to compete a little better,” he said. “We didn’t pitch very well in certain spots. We didn’t hit very well in spots. We’re not that bad of a team, we just didn’t play very well today.”

Leahy said his team showed what the upcoming season will most likely look like.

“I feel great,” he said. “We got through some pitching situations that we put ourselves into, but we got out of those with our bats and I think that’s going to be the theme over the course of about 70 games or so.”

Seven Blizzard had two or more hits each, led by Springfield, 3-for-4, one run; and John Apostolo, 2-for-3 with three runs and 2 RBI. They had 17 total hits, while Santa Fe had 10, with Eric Scott and Jimmie Maxwell 2-for-4 and Kyle Zimmerman 2-for-5.

What might be the brightest spot for both teams is that both were error free, an especially good statistic on opening day. And while the managers were pleased with the home runs, they both saw other things to be impressed with.

“They felt great, to get their first pro dinger out of the way,” Leahy said. “Had some guys get some stolen bases and some bunts, a lot of firsts today, but I’m glad we got it today so it was good.”

“I was equally impressed with a few stolen bases we had, and Eric Scott bunting late in the game when we needed some baserunners and beating it out,” Moore said. “We did some good things. Devonte swung the bat well today. Josh had a decent day with the bat, but we weren’t consistent all day. We probably scored enough runs for that game to be a lot closer than it was.”

The teams will be back in action Thursday in Santa Fe — Taos has a limited number of home games this season — and both think the game could be equally exciting.

“Big crowd, lot of fun, lot of excitement and turn this thing back over,” Moore said, when asked what he expects to see at the 6 p.m. matchup.

“I tell you, if we score 16 in Taos, it’s unlimited the amount (of runs) we could score in Santa Fe with the 285 down the line,” Leahy said. “Our lineup will be accordingly.” Phil Grondin contributed to this story.