Pupfish use big hits to outlast Fuego
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
SANTA FE — Wednesday, Santa Fe and White Sands met for the first time this season, and after descriptions of Fort Marcy Park proved to be true, the Pupfish came away with a close 15-12, fueled by a lot of big runs.
“It was good,” said White Sands manager Ernie Munoz. “High scoring like we expected. Everything everybody said about this place was true.”
But it took a bit for that big scoring to get underway. Through the first four innings, the ‘Fish held a slim 2-1 lead, with White Sands scoring in the third on J.J. Costantino’s first professional home run after the Fuego went up 1-0 in the first when Josh Barnett singled and scored on a Jimmy Maxwell single.
Things got a lot more interesting in the fifth as both teams scored big.
The Pupfish got singled from starting pitcher Chris Peacock and Constantino, but they also got two outs. But Munoz singled, Collins walked and George Ban hit a grand slam home run, taking advantage of the short right-field fence to make it 7-1.
Santa Fe tied it in the bottom of the inning when Kellen Lee singled, Evan Mansell and William Smalls walked, Josh White singled and Barnett hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Mansell.
Charlie Calamia was hit, Devonte Odums — back in the lineup after time off for an injury — doubled in two, Calamia scored on a passed ball and after Maxwell walked, Odums came in on a putout.
For Munoz, that one inning was the biggest negative.
“We had one bad inning. Again,” he said. “There’s always that one inning in the middle of the game where we just fall apart and give up a lot of runs, and that was kind of the case tonight. Other than that one big inning, they were just chipping away.”
While White Sands had its second big inning in a row, again scoring five in the sixth on a Mark Leacox single and Brett Mendoza double, then, after a pitching change, a Steven Rogers single; put out; Mendoza single; and Cody Collins home run.
Santa Fe put two up in the bottom of the stanza when Mansell singled, Charlie Henjy walked and Calamia brought both in on a single.
Miguel Flores made it 14-9 in the seventh on his first pro home run, binging in Chris DeBiasi, who had singled; then added a final run in the ninth when Leacox singled and scored on a Ryan Pembroke double.
Santa Fe tried to come back in both the eighth and ninth, scoring one in the eighth on a Calamia RBI double and two in the ninth when Kyle Zimmerman and Lee singled, coming home on a wild pitch and Anthony Welsh single.
Welsh was caught stealing with runners on base for the third out, and that inability to come back big was what concerned Santa Fe manager Bill Moore.
“We swung the bat pretty well. We pitched pretty well in spots. We just didn’t play very consistently. It’s something we’re trying to clean up,” he said.
Asked what he meant, Moore explained.
“We talked about it. There’s a chart we use and when the other team scores, our hitters need to accept the responsibility that we need to score back. When we do score, our pitchers need to figure out how to say, ‘No, no, no’ to the other team’s hitters. And we’re not doing a very good job of that. I think tonight, on our plus-minus chart, we had two innings where we shut them down after we scored, and we only had three innings where we scored after they scored. We keep chasing that way. You keep chasing. You’re not gaining ground. You’re just staying where you were.”
The teams will meet again Thursday in Santa Fe, as well as Friday and Saturday. Originally, they were scheduled to head back to the Aquarium for two, but that was changed for financial reasons.
Moore hopes the home matches will help his team break their current skid.
“I hope everybody digs deep and comes out with their best game,” he said. “And we need to do that, key word again, consistently.”
Phil Grondin contributed to this story
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