On a cold day in Gallup, it took the Belen High School baseball team until the second game of a doubleheader to break the ice and record its first victory of the season.
The Eagles lost the first game, 9-2, but came back to win the nightcap, 8-6.
“We’ll take it,” Belen head coach Mike Gutierrez said of the split. “Not having scrimmaged and just getting the wrestlers and the basketball players back the week before the game, we’ll take that result.”
Saturday’s doubleheader opened the 2002 high school baseball season for both teams.
In the opener, Gallup jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. The Bengals increased their lead to 6-0 when a Belen error extended the fifth inning and allowed three runs to score.
“I attribute that to first-game jitters,” Gutierrez said of the miscue. “And maybe the fact that it was 28 degrees didn’t help either.”
The Eagles tallied their first runs of the season in the sixth inning. Belen second baseman Steve Sanchez singled and later scored on a base hit by Steve Gutierrez. Pitcher Michael John Schmock then doubled to score Gutierrez.
Coach Gutierrez said Schmock pitched a pretty good game despite taking the loss.
“He had a rocky first inning, but he settled down and threw pretty well after that,” the coach said. “We didn’t back him up with the bats. We left runners in scoring position and didn’t get that timely hit in the first ballgame.”
Belen’s bats warmed up in time for the second game when the Eagles pounded out 15 hits.
Sanchez started a first-inning rally with a single. After Schmock walked, both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Robert Rimorin plated them both with a double. Rimorin later scored on a base knock by Chris Sonnenberg.
Gallup answered back with two runs in the bottom of the inning to cut Belen’s lead to 3-2, but the Eagles tallied three more in the second to lead 6-2.
With one out, Jason Rivera singled and stole second base. One out later, Angelo Gabaldon singled to drive Rivera home. Sanchez and Schmock followed with singles, and Rimorin doubled again to knock in two runs.
The Eagles added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take an 8-2 lead. The Bengals added four runs in their last at bat, but the rally came up short.
Gabaldon struck out eight in five-and-two-thirds innings pitched to earn the win. Rivera finished the game on the mound for Belen.
Belen’s hitting attack was led by Sanchez, who was 4 for 5 at the plate with two runs scored. Rimorin, Sonnenberg and Randy Case each went 2 for 4, and Gabaldon was 2 for 5 with two runs.
In the first game, Schmock and Sanchez led the Belen attack, each going 2 for 3 at the plate.
The Eagles played another doubleheader Tuesday at Socorro (no results were available at News-Bulletin press time). Belen makes its home debut Saturday when they host Española Valley in a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m.
Lady Eagles lose twice
The Belen High School softball team is off to a shaky start after dropping its first three games — one to Los Lunas in the season opener last week, and two more on Saturday when St. Pius X swept a doubleheader by scores of 11-4 and 13-3 in Albuquerque.
“We just need to get back on track with a win,” head coach Nettie Salas said. “We’re hitting the ball well, and we’re not making many errors. Things will come together in time.”
One thing the Lady Eagles hope will come soon is pitching.
“Our pitchers are just lacking a little bit of experience,” Salas said. “They just need some more game-to-game experience and they will get better as we go.”
Belen left a number of runners stranded in Saturday’s games at St. Pius, which is a concern of coach Salas, but not her main concern.
“Our hitting will come around — we are hitting the ball very well — but when you get kids on base, you want to make sure they get around,” said Salas.
However off-track things are for the Eagles this year, they played against a St. Pius team that had its bats working.
“They were hitting our pitchers really well, no matter what they threw,” Salas said.
Despite dropping their first three games, Salas remains optimistic about the team overall.
“We just have to keep preparing, one game at a time,” she said. “We are a very capable team.”
The Lady Eagles returned to action on Tuesday when the Capital Jaguars came to town (no score was available at News-Bulletin press time). The Lady Eagles play another home game on Saturday when they host Rio Grande at 10 a.m.