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Texico goes 1-2 at Cardinal Classic


March 27, 2019

Three-time state champions want to be four-time state champions. Makes sense.

Those championships have a beginning, with the late-winter practices that get teams ready for the regular season, and the early regular-season games themselves, which are the first-laid bricks in a season-ending championship wall.

Texico’s baseball team, though, came out of its first weekend with just one brick to its credit. The Wolverines opened well enough — with a 16-2 thrashing of Hatch Valley Thursday at the Cardinal Classic in Eunice. But then came the rest of the weekend, which brought a pair of close losses — 7-5 to host Eunice on Friday and 4-3 in eight innings against Hobbs JV on Saturday.

Tricky start, but it’s early. Plenty of time to build that wall.

“The kids were fighting and that’s an important part early in the season,” Texico head coach Ty Thatcher said. “Lack of preparation and going into three games back-to-back-to-back after three practices is always tough. We do have a little less experienced team this year and some of these kids are figuring it out. We’re going to have to have some patience.”

Part of what has made ‘figuring it out’ necessary was the boys basketball team — with a contingent of baseball players — making a run to the state 2A semifinals. That run ended on March 15, six days before opening baseball season against Hatch Valley.

“When you’ve got to bounce back and hit that reset button and come out and have confidence in a sport that’s constantly plaguing you with failures, it’s difficult to understand mentally how to approach your next game and next at-bat,” Thatcher said. “The kids have to sort through that process.”

Though they didn’t have to do much sorting in last Thursday’s opener, jumping on Hatch Valley with five runs in the second inning and an 11-spot in the third.

In the five-inning game, Texico’s Cian Holmes went the distance and fired a two-hitter. “Cian threw well in the opener and did a good job for us,” Thatcher said.

Robin Winton paced Texico in Thursday’s game, smacking two triples and driving in three runs. Dalton Thatcher had two hits, including a triple and two RBIs. Luke Phipps was 2-for-3, including a double and an RBI.

Friday’s game, however, went south quickly.

Eunice plated five runs in the first inning, fueled by a Logan Gaskins two-run homer followed by a collection of Texico miscues in the outfield. It led to starter Luke Phipps being relieved in the first by Seth Griego, who pitched the rest of the game.

Texico did inch within two runs, thanks in part to a double and RBI from Phipps, but ultimately fell short.

“We battled back resiliently and found ways to get close,” Coach Thatcher said. “We had runners in scoring position in the seventh, made a little bit of a rally, came up just one hit short of extending that game.”

Last came Saturday’s contest against Hobbs’ JV which, though early, could go into the heartbreaker category. In began with a rough outing for pitcher Isaac Ortiz, who is battling back from a basketball injury.

“The plan was to get Isaac through the lineup once and get into the second or third inning and bring in Dalton to finish out that game.”

The younger Thatcher instead had to come in during the first inning and pitched well, but was limited this early in the spring. After about 75 pitches, he was done.

“We can’t afford to lose his arm early in the year like that,” Coach Thatcher said.

Phipps came on in the sixth, and Texico headed into the top of the seventh trailing 3-2. In that half-inning, though, Cole Rohrbach singled Dalton Thatcher home with the tying run.

The Hobbs JV couldn’t score in the bottom of the seventh inning, sending the game to extras. And with bases loaded for the Eagles with one out in the bottom of the eighth, Hunter Wright sliced a walk-off single.

“They just got some guys in scoring position and came up with the big hit to finish it off,” Coach Thatcher said. “That’s how the game’s played.”

Texico has plenty of those games to work with, beginning 10 a.m. Thursday against Dexter in the Colt Classic at New Mexico Military Institute. The Wolverines have a chance to gain a lot from their three-day visit to Roswell.

“Some quality teams in that tournament, so it should be fun,” Coach Thatcher said. “3A, 4A schools in that tournament, so that will be good competition for us.”


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