Colts take two from Bears in baseball season opener

NMMI sophomore second baseman Rilan Maloney fields a high-chopper before throwing to first to record the final out in Game 1. Maloney went 2-for-5 at the plate with a pair of RBIs and a run scored during NMMI’s season-opening doubleheader against Hatch. Photo courtesy of Laura Brown
NMMI sophomore second baseman Rilan Maloney fields a high-chopper before throwing to first to record the final out in Game 1. Maloney went 2-for-5 at the plate with a pair of RBIs and a run scored during NMMI’s season-opening doubleheader against Hatch. Photo courtesy of Laura Brown

NMMI Sports Press

The Colt varsity baseball team swept their season-opening doubleheader against visiting Hatch Valley on Friday at the NMMI Ballpark.

Game 1 was a close affair, with the Institute holding on to an early lead for the 6-3 win.

All of NMMI’s runs came in the first three innings, with a quartet crossing the plate in the bottom of the first. Sophomore centerfielder Alejandro Barcenas lead off with a single between short and third, junior shortstop Andres Bleizeffer drew a base on balls, senior pitcher Alejandro Lopez reached on an error to load the bases, and junior catcher Martin Ayon drove in the first run of the season on a ground out to the right side. Junior third baseman Luke Taylor then singled to left to bring home two more Colts, and later scored on another Hatch error.

Those four in the first were all that NMMI would need for the win, but Hatch made the game interesting with single spots in the second, four and fifth innings, against relief pitch Bleizeffer, who got credit for the win with four innings of work. Only one of those three runs was earned and ‘Blaze’ gave up just two hits to the Bears while striking out six.

Barcenas took the mound for the final two innings, earning the save while allowing just one more Hatch hit.

In Game 2, NMMI posted crooked numbers on offense in every stanza, ending the game early after four-and-a-half innings due to the mercy rule, 16-1.

The double-digits in runs came from a combination of both power and patience at the plate as the Colts slapped seven hits – including an in-the-park home run by Bleizeffer – and elicited eleven walks.

Taylor threw all five innings to record the win, giving up just one hit and one walk, while striking out seven.

“Adversity hit us early when our ace starting pitcher Alex Lopez went down with an injury in the first inning,” said head Colt coach Charlie Ward. “But we preach a mentality of ‘next man up’, to always be ready. But in this case, it was next woman up – Rilan Maloney came in and did her part. We put her in the three-hole and she had a couple of base hits, a couple of RBIs and played well at second base.

Coach Ward was also pleased with the performance of his pitching staff, especially this early in the season. “Blaizeffer stepped up with really no warm up to replace Lopez,” explained the coach. “He is normally our catcher, but he did a great job on the mound. And then Taylor pounded the zone in Game 2 and pitched really well.”

Five players hit over .400 for the Colts in the twinbill: junior Carlos Retamoza went 1-for-1 with a pair of runs scored; Barcenas crossed the plate four times and went 4-for-6; Bleizeffer also had four hits in six at-bats with three RBIs and six runs; Taylor was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a pair of runs; and sophomore Maloney was 2-for-5 with 2 RBIs and 1 run.

With the season-opening wins, NMMI stands at 2-0. They’ll have ten days to work out any kinks coach Ward saw in their games vs. the Bears, before travelling to take on the Warriors in Ruidoso for a single game slated to start at 2:00 P.M. on Monday, March 11.