McCurdy Picks up a Pair of District Wins

by Staff Reporter / Apr 09, 2018 / 0 comments
McCurdy’s Ubaldo Barela went the distance on the mound in the Bobcats’ 13-3 victory over Santa Fe Prep April 5 at McCurdy. The Bobcats are 2-0 in District 2/3-3A. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

McCurdy Picks up a Pair of District Wins

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

McCurdy Charter School baseball coach Roberto DeVargas was worried the beginning of last week. His team had not played many games and they were about to begin play in District 2/3-3A. Not counting a double header against a non-varsity opponent, the Bobcats had played just three games against varsity teams. They had lost to Santa Fe Indian School 12-2 and swept a doubleheader from Penasco High School 22-2 and 20-0. The two wins against Penasco hardly tested the Bobcats, who ended up giving away outs by removing their helmets while on the field.

Their district opponents, Pecos High School and Santa Fe Prep School, had played nine games and seven games, respectively. The first test would come April 3 at McCurdy against Pecos and it turned out to be a heartstopper.

Pecos was having trouble against McCurdy Pitcher A. J. Vallo, who recorded 11 strikeouts over the first four innings. When Pecos finally figured Vallo out, they did so in a big way. The Panthers scored three runs in the top of the fifth inning to tie the score at 5-5. Kemmer Croff took over on the mound for the Bobcats.

Pecos added a run in the top of the sixth to take a 6-5 lead. The Panthers added two more runs in the top of the seventh and led 8-5.

Down to their final three outs, the Bobcats batted in the bottom of the seventh inning. AJ Vallo lined a shot to centerfield that took one hop on McCurdy’s rock-hard dirt field and sailed over the head of Pecos’ centerfielder.

Vallo raced around the bases for an inside-the-park home run. That sparked a McCurdy rally that tied the score and could have ended the game had not McCurdy had a runner thrown out at the plate. Two runs scored on a misplayed fly ball to right field and the score was tied 8-8 after seven innings.

The game went into extra innings and Pecos added a run in the top of the eighth inning. The Bobcats came back and tied the score. After a scoreless ninth inning, Pecos came up with two runs in the top of the 10th inning to lead 11-9.

Things were not looking good for the Bobcats, but with two outs, Vallo kept it alive with a double. A throwing error on a grounder to shortstop scored one run. With two outs and runners on second and third, a grounder to third base that could have ended the game ended up producing the tying and winning runs when the throw to first was off the mark. That allowed both runners to score. Miraculously, McCurdy came away with a 12-11 victory.

“I always told them ‘We’re one hit away from winning this game,’” Coach DeVargas said. “They persevered and showed a lot of heart.”

The next game April 5 against Santa Fe Prep was won in less dramatic fashion. The Bobcats broke open a tight game in the fourth inning. Ahead 4-3, McCurdy scored two runs on Nikko Valdez’s triple an added another run to make the score 7-4after four innings. In the fifth inning, McCurdy scored five more runs in the fifth inning with Valdez contricuting a single that drove in a run. Leading 12-3 in the sixth inning, McCurdy ended the game under the 10-run mercy rule when Brandon Lovato lined a base hit to left field that scored scored the game-ending run to give the Bobcats a 13-3 victory

Ubaldo Barela went the distance on the mound for McCurdy to pick up the win. Valdez finished 3-for-4 at the plate with three runs-batted-in.

“Don’t back out (of the batters box) and hang in there,” Valdez said. “Focus on doing my part and coming through for my team.”

McCurdy’s Brandon Lovato is tagged out at the plate by Santa Fe Prep pitcher Victor Rios after trying to score on a passed ball. Lovato later drove in the game-ending run in the sixth inning. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Despite not having a senior on the roster, McCurdy fields a veteran team who began playing as eighth-graders and freshmen for Coach DeVargas. A solid group of juniors now, the Bobcats were back-to-back state runnerup in Class 2A in 2015 and 2016 before moving into Class 3A last season. They’re looking to go deeper into the Class 3A state baseball tournament this season after losing last year in the quarterfinals. Ironically, the Bobcats will return to Class 2A next season.

Barela, Vallo and Kemmer Croff are the main pitchers for the Bobcats, with Diego Borrego and Isaiah Archuleta also available. Vallo, Valdez and Croff are the meat of McCurdy’s batting order.

“These kids are all ball players,” Coach DeVargas said. “Right now we’re seeing the ball a lot better and that goes with playing more games-bottom line.”

McCurdy is 2-0 in District 2/3-3A. The Bobcats will face perhaps their stiffest test yet in District play when they travel to Raton Tuesday (4/10) to take on the Tigers. It was Raton who defeated McCurdy in the state quarterfinals last year. The Tigers are 3-0 in District 2/3-3A and have outscored their opponents 48-6 in district games.

“I’m telling them that one player is not going to win the game,” Coach DeVargas said. “That you can’t win the game all by yourself. It takes the whole team.”