The Belen High School baseball team dropped two more district games on Thursday when the Silver High Fighting Colts came to town. The Eagles lost both ends of a doubleheader by scores of 12-8 and 5-3. The losses dropped the Eagles record to 0-5 in District 3-4A play, 3-9 overall.
The Eagles are off to a very rocky start in the district and have an uphill climb ahead of them throughout the remainder of the season. Despite the disappointing outcome of the two games, head coach Mike Gutierrez said there is a positive side to the losses.
“We’ve struggled putting runs on the board of late,” Gutierrez said afterwards. “It’s positive that we were able to put some runs on the board. Today we kind of steadied the ship. I think the guys got back some of their confidence.”
The Eagles have not been playing bad baseball of late, according to Gutierrez. They have just had some trouble putting together a complete game.
“We had our chances,” the coach said. “I think, in the first game, we had some defensive let downs, and we couldn’t get the timely hits. In the second game, we had some base running miscues and missed some signs, and that’s what really hurt us.”
The first game gave the crowd plenty of runs to watch, as the teams combined for 20 runs. But the second game was more of a pitcher’s duel.
The Colts jumped out quickly on Belen starting pitcher Angelo Gabaldon. Silver put up four runs in the top of the first inning. But Gabaldon settled down and so did the pace as the two teams combined for just four more runs in the rest of the game.
In the bottom of the second inning, after Silver had built a 4-0 lead, the Eagles were finally able to find their way to home plate when a two-out rally produced a run.
In the top of the third, the Colts threatened to add to their lead, but the Eagles dodged a bullet with an inning-ending double play.
The 5-to-4-to-3 double play changed the pace of the game for the Eagles’ defense. And after blanking the Colts again in the third, the Eagles’ offense mounted a come back.
Bobby Baca and Steve Sanchez found their way around the base paths to cut Silver’s lead to 5-3. Baca scored on an Eric Gregor sacrifice fly, while Sanchez scored on a Michael John Schmock single.
The Eagles were inspired. “When I’m down in a game, it pushes me to work harder,” Gabaldon said. “I throw the ball harder and try to throw more junk.”
Gabaldon did not allow another Colt runner to touch home plate, but the Eagles were unable to score either.
“I told the guys after the game, it’s like we put together two three-quarter ballgames,” Gutierrez said. “It seems like things didn’t get started until we had two outs on us. We really just need to tighten the screws a little.”
Earlier in the week, the Eagles were no-hit by Deming’s Daniel Villa in an 11-0 Wildcat win. Just three Eagles reached base — Gabaldon was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning, a Deming error allowed Eric Sonnenberg to reach in the fifth and Robert Rimorin followed with a walk.
With two on and two out in the fifth, Michael Garcia hit the hardest ball of the day off Villa, but it was snagged by 6-foot-4-inch shortstop Scott Moore.
The Eagles return to action when they play host to Las Cruces Oñate on Tuesday, April 9.