Raton gets series split with Pupfish on 10th-inning comeback
Ernie Munoz slides safely back into first after a line drive shot to second. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
ALAMOGORDO — Raton manager Ray Hancock is happy as the Osos head home after four days in Alamogordo. Monday, Raton earned a split in the series with a 9-8, 10-inning victory over the Pupfish.
“Extra innings and the whole nine yards. Even had to use a couple of my position players to pitch,” Hancock said. “But we got it done. We played from first strike to last outs. They were up on us there for a couple of innings but we came back. Scratched and kicked and everything else, but the players came through. They’re definitely turning into a team.”
White Sands did lead early, going up 1-0 in the first when J.J. Costantino singled and came home on a Cody Collins double.
Both teams scored one run in the second. Brandon Cruz and Louie Saenz singled for the Osos, with Cruz coming home on a fielder’s choice.
The ‘Fish made it 2-1 on singles by Jerry Gonzalez and Mark Leacox, a hit batter and a fielder’s choice.
Raton made it 2-2 in the third when Stedman Smith doubled, advanced on a put out and came home on a sac fly by Michael Lange. But that was all the scoring for the Osos until late, with the Pupfish slowly stretching the lead.
White Sands made it 4-2 in the fourth when, with two outs and a runner on first, Hancock pulled starter John Costa, putting right fielder Westly Jones on the mound.
“I just needed to get an out without going into my bullpen,” the manager said.
Jones, who had pitched in college, promptly threw a hanger that Christian Ramirez sent out of the park.
“But the good thing was, the players never gave up,” Hancock said.
Jared Rolan gave up another two Pupfish runs in the fifth when George Ban tripled and came home on a Gonzales single, and Gonzales scored on a Leacox single, stolen base and put out. They made it 7-2 in the sixth off Brian Hicks, who gave up singles to Ramirez and Ernie Munoz, then wild-pitched Ramirez home.
Raton had a big inning in the seventh, scoring four runs on five hits. With starter Chris Peacock still on the mound, Vincent Smarvelli and Smith both singled, then, with two outs, Lange hit a 3 RBI home run — his seventh of the season — and Cruz followed that shot with a solo dinger.
Miguel Flores made it 8-6 in the bottom of the inning with an RBI triple, but the Osos added a lone run in the eight and ninth, tying it, and in the 10th to get the victory.
Smarvelli got the RBI in the eighth, doubling in Travis Fuquay, who reached on an error; Jones reached on a White Sands error in the ninth, scoring when he stole home after advancing on out; then Brian Gregory scored the winning run after walking, advancing on a wild pitch and sacrifice fly, and scoring on a Smarvelli sac fly.
After shortstop A.J. Doyle pitched 1.2 innings, holding the Pupfish scoreless, Richard Suniga came in to close.
“Richie just shut the door on them,” Hancock said. “So we’re very happy and we get to go home with a split from White Sands, which that’s a really good thing. I think once we start playing the northern teams, there’s a really good chance we’ll start doing well.”
“We gave another game away, just like we’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks,” said disappointed sounding White Sands manager Munoz. “We made a couple of errors. Had a couple of passed balls. Wild pitches. We didn’t play good baseball today. We got lackadaisical. I don’t know. We tend to overlook teams, and Raton’s not a bad team. If you overlook them, they’ll beat you. They have some guys who can hit. They have a couple of arms out there. They didn’t make it easy tonight. They played better than we did and they won.”
And while the four White Sands pitchers kept the Osos hits down — they only had 11 — Hancock was pleased with how his team took advantage of Pupfish mistakes.
“Absolutely. And we’re not a team that’s able to do that very often, so when someone gives us a mistake, we have to take advantage,” he said.
The Osos now head home to face Santa Fe — the other team they’ve split with this season — for a two game series at 6 p.m. each night. White Sands gets its third go at Alpine starting Wednesday — the ‘Fish have an off day Tuesday — and Munoz is hoping they’ll play more like the last time the teams met, but can’t say.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with that series,” he said. “I’d like to say we’ll take all four and that’d be ideal. If we play like we did today, I’d be surprised if we win one game from the series.”
John Costa throws a sidearm strike to J.J. Costantino. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
Christian Ramirez gets gets congrats after a two-run shot in the fourth. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
No argument here. Stedman Smith takes the walk. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
Chris Peacock started on the mound for White Sands. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
John Costa fields the bunt. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
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