Pojoaque Sweeps Doubleheader from Espanola

Pojoaque’s Nate Aguilar was the winning pitcher in the Elks 16-5 victory over Espanola in the first game of a doubleheader March 25 at Pojoaque
Pojoaque’s Nate Aguilar was the winning pitcher in the Elks 16-5 victory over Espanola in the first game of a doubleheader March 25 at Pojoaque. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Pojoaque Sweeps Doubleheader from Espanola

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

Pojoaque Valley High School was swinging away against local rival Espanola Valley High School in a doubleheader March 25 at Pojoaque. The Elks won both games under the 10-run mercy rule. Pojoaque came back from a 4-0 deficit in the opener to win 16-5 and used an 11-run first inning to roll over the Sundevils 20-0 in the nightcap and improve to over .500 on the season with a 7-6 record.

Pojoaque has won its last three games and 7-2 after starting the season 0-4. The Elks were returning home after dropping a doubleheader at Raton when Alejandro Atencio picked up a walking stick with an eagle on top.

“We needed a rally stick,” Atencio said.

Pojoaque’s Alejandro Atencio holds the rally stick that he purchased on a trip back from a doubleheader loss to Raton High School. The Elks are 7-2 since then and the stick seems to have brought Pojoaque good fortune. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

The stick now accompanies the team into the dugout during games, where the Elks rub it for good luck. The stick may or may not have magical powers. Baseball players can be notoriously superstitious and believing in good luck may have been just the thing the Elks needed to gain confidence.

The struggling Sundevils actually started strong in the first game, roughing up Pojoaque starter Nathan Aguilar for four runs in the first inning. Espanola had six hits, including a double by Jayden Garcia after consecutive singles by Jose Espinoza, Frisco Abeyta and Daniel Zelic.

Pojoaque answered with three runs in their half of the first inning to make the score 4-3. Espanola was still swinging in the top of the second inning. Leadof hitter Aron Garcia reached on an error and later scored. Espanola loaded the bases with one out, but Aguilar finally found his groove and struck out the next two batters. Espanola would not score another run.

Pojoaque added four runs in the second inning to take a 7-5 lead. The Elks took control of the game with five runs in the third inning to lead 12-5. Leading 13-5 in the fifth inning, Pojoaque put the game away after Aguilar led off with a double. Andres Romero was hit by a pitch and Jason Quintana brought Aguilar home with a single. Atencio, after likely rubbing the Elks rally stick, brought the final two runs that ended the game across the plate with a single.

Pojoaque’s Isaac Roybal pitched the final two innings of the Elks 20-0 win over Espanola in the second game of a doubleheader March 25 at Pojoaque. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

In the second game, Pojoaque jumped all over Espanola starter Marcus Griego. Griego didn’t pitch that badly, but he had no support from his defense. After Isaac Roybal led off with a single and Jonathan Sanchez was hit with a pitch, Aguilar grounded to third for what should have been an easy forceout and possible double play. However, Espanola’s shortstop threw the ball right into the helmet of Roybal on the attempted forceout at third.

After a single by Romero scored two runs, Chross Jaramillo lofted a high pop fly to the infield that should have been caught, but wasn’t. Another pop fly was dropped by the second baseman. Aguilar’s fly ball to right field should have been caught for the third out to end the inning, but it too was dropped. Romero, batting for the second time in the inning, put the finishing touches on what was a complete meltdown by Espanola by slamming a pitch over the fence in left field for a three-run homer. That made the score 11-0.

Pojoaque’s Andres Romero hit a three-run homer against Espanola. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“I was down in the count,” Romero said. “It was a fastball. I just took a normal swing. That’s the first one I’ve hit. It felt good.”

It was all downhill after that for the Sundevils, who managed just two hits off Pojoaque pitching. Jaramillo started for the Elks and Roybal pitched the last two innings. Espanola fell to 2-10 on the season.

Pojoaque is gaining momentum as the Elks head into District 2-4A play Tuesday against Taos High School at Taos. District 2-4A looks competitive from top to bottom, with all five teams that make up the district having winning records going into district play.

“The whole district is solid,” Pojoaque Co-Head Coach Rick Jaramillo said. “It’s going to be a battle for the district title.”

Jaramillo shares Head-Coaching duties with Robert Mueller. The unusual situation, a first at Pojoaque, seems to be working.

“What he’s thinking I’m thinking” Mueller said. “Our philosophies are a lot alike.”