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More power! Hot bats give Fuego victory No. 2

By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer

SANTA FE — The Fuego evened the series vs. Taos at 2-2 Saturday with another big hitting home-run fest that ended 19-12, Santa Fe.

It was the first game back for manager Bill Moore, who missed two games for family business, and he seemed happy to be there.

“I feel great. End of story,” he laughed. “I feel great. We had a good night at the ball park. Hit the ball well. Played defense well. Pitched well, for the most part.”

Complete play-by-play and accurate stats were not available, but the line score shows the Fuego jumping up early, leading 2-0 after two and 7-2 after three. They stretched the lead to 9-1 after four on strong pitching by starter Gill Tussey.

Blizzard starter Shayne Miller went 3-2/3 innings, leaving just before his team had a big seven-run fifth inning.

“We got in trouble in the fifth inning,” Moore said. “Gil Tussey started the game for us and he was lights out for four, then in the fifth inning he just struggled with the strike zone and got himself in trouble with walks.”

Tussey actually only walked two, but after opening the stanza with a single and home run by Vincent Smarrelli,he allowed another six hits, putting Taos up 10-9. Mike Londino kept the Fuego from scoring in the fifth, but the retook the lead in the sixth with two runs, then added another two in the seventh and six in the eighth.

Pitcher Jerome Romero helped get Tussey out of the fifth, then combined with Charlie McCready and Larry Rodriguez to shut the Blizzard down in the sixth, seventh and eighth. Jared Bowser gave up the final two Taos runs in the ninth.

To no one’s surprise in the hitter’s ballpark, there were seven homers in the game.

Kyle Richardson, Smarrelli and Ruben Rijkhof sent the ball flying for Taos, while Jimmie Maxwell hit two for Santa Fe with Eric Scott and Rodriguez adding one apiece.

Yes, that Rodriguez, who also pitched two innings for the Fuego and was 4-for-4 with four runs and 3 RBI.

“Not a bad night at the yard, hey?” Moore laughed. “Larry’s a very good baseball player. I honestly believe I could put him anywhere on the field: catch, pitch, maybe at the same time. He’s just a terrific baseball player.”

Both teams had 18 hits — Santa Fe just made their count a little more — and the Fuego had the only error of the game.

Moore was asked what caused the turnaround after losing the first two games.

“During spring training we talked a lot about we’ve got to hate losing more than we enjoy winning, and perhaps losing twice made us (think), ‘Enough, already. It’s time to play a little harder and a little better,’” he said.

Santa Fe now heads north to face 0-4 Raton, and Moore said the first thing he’ll do in the border town is “say hello to my good friend Ray Hancock. Our plan there is just see if we can stay on a roll like we are with the bats.”

Moore said he’ll give Jesse Meier his first start of the season Sunday, then move reliever Nick Huff from the pen into the starting rotation Monday.

Taos has a long drive to Alpine, where they’ll open a four-game series against the Cowboys Sunday.

Phil Grondin contributed to this story.