Triggers survive late-inning comeback by Pupfish
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
ALAMOGORDO — White Sands almost pulled off an amazing comeback for the second day in a row.
Down 10-2 in the bottom of the ninth at home against Trinidad, the Pupfish put up five runs on a walk, fielder’s choice, single and two home runs, then loaded the bases with two outs before player/manager Ernie Munoz struck out for the final out.
Oh so close.
“I did have a strikeout to end the game. Came up in the big situation and wasn’t able to capitalize. But that’s baseball,” Munoz said.
For the Triggers, it was a big on-the-road win after two losses at home, and manager J.D. Droddy blamed the late-inning Pupfish comeback on his pitching.
“As I’ve told you before, I’m trying to find a bullpen,” he said. “It’s middle relief that we’ve got to find. I’m very pleased with the starting pitching. I’m very pleased with the closer. We’ve just got to beef up middle relief.”
The Triggers didn’t have any huge innings, but scored in four different stanzas to take the big late lead, and Droddy also liked that.
“We hit early and often, which is the way we have been playing,” he said. “We didn’t play that way last night against Las Vegas, but even the first night when they beat us, we hit early and often. We got 17 hits.”
Trinidad went up 2-0 in the first when Jacob Fabry singled and scored on the first of five White Sands errors.
Sam DiMatteo, who reached third on the error, came in on a Frank Florio single.
Starters Chris Tuttle (Trinidad) and Chris Anklam (White Sands) kept things scoreless through the next two innings, but the top of the fourth saw the Trigger’s biggest inning of the game.
After Florio singled, Mike Goldy homered to put them up 4-0. With one out, Andrew Azzopardi doubled, Miller reached on an error and, with two outs, Matt Hunt singled to make it 6-0.
White Sands got their first run in the bottom of the stanza when Munoz and Cody Collins singled, Mike Mendoza was hit to load the bases and George Ban hit a sac fly to center to score Munoz. Although Tutlle loaded the bases again, pinch hitter Erik Nockleby ground out for the third out.
The Triggers added another pair of runs in the fifth off reliever Michael Willis, who only gave up one hit — a single by Richie Serritella — but but walked one, had a wild pitch and was betrayed by another error.
The sixth and seventh were scoreless — Tuttle went seven and John Saavedra came in for the ‘Fish — but both teams scored in the eighth.
Miller walked and pinch hitter Alan Cheatham hit a “long bomb” for Trinidad to make it 8-1.
Josh Trejo came in for the Triggers, getting the first two runners out, but then Mendoza doubled and Ban hit an RBI single. In what would be a preview of the ninth, the Pupfish loaded the bases but couldn’t bring anyone else in.
The White Sands hits in the final stanza came from Andrew Parrish, who singled, Cody Collins and George Ban, who homered, and Mark Leacox, Wednesday night’s hero, who singled.
Droddy said Trejo, who just joined the tam from Alpine “pitched one good inning then he kind of fell apart. He gave up five runs before I could get him replaced, but it was all right.”
James Coon came in briefly in the ninth, giving up one single, then Benji Waite came in.
“Who I’m convinced is the best closer in the league and he just came down and shut them out, which is what he always does,” Droddy said “I was nervous until I could get Benji in, then I don’t get too nervous when Benji is in there. I’ve got great confidence in Benji. He’s just a tremendous closer.”
Wait did face four batters, but also got the final two outs, including the strikeout to Munoz.
For the manager, those errors were key.
“Again, it’s just the errors are killing us,” he said. “But the positive thing we took from it is that this team shows it will fight back. And I think when it comes down to the end of the season, that’s going to be very important as the games get closer and there’s a lot of tight games in the playoffs and we know now that we don’t give up. We just have to start with that same fire in the beginning of the game. We want to turn it on in the last couple of innings lately, where we should be turning it on after the first pitch.”
Munoz blamed most of the mistakes on his younger players, who, he said, just need to put the errors behind them.
“It’s mental mistakes is what’s going on,” he said. “We make one error and that leads to another error and another error and we’ve got to learn as a team to shut it down after the first error. Because we’re going to make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. And that’s what we need to know.”
The Pupfish and Triggers will go at it again Friday at 6 p.m., with the city opening it’s “Movie under the Stars” night on an inflatable screen on an adjoining diamond. The movie — Shrek — will begin around sunset, with youngsters — and the young at heart — able to go from the game to the movie and back again.
For more information visit Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs LLC. http://www.PecosLeague.com 575-680-2212