Alpine edges Taos 8-7 in 11 innings
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
ALPINE, Texas — Taos and Alpine battled through 11 innings in Alpine in the first extra-inning game of the Pecos League season, with the Cowboys winning their home opener 8-7 on a walk-off single by Derrick Fox.
But the loss wasn’t a big concern to Taos manager Matt Leahy.
“Tonight was absolutely the best ballgame we had put together,” he said. “The best ballgame to watch. The best ballgame to be in. At the end of the day we tip our hats to the Cowboys. It was just a great game to be a part of, something we can build off of.”
The Alpine bus barely pulled into town from Alamogordo in time for the opening festivities.
“We were running on fumes from all our travel,” said manager Ryan Stevens. “We got in about a half hour before batting practice. We had enough time to go eat Subway and come back.”
Still, they jumped up early on the Blizzard, scoring three in the first on a home run by Joel Carranza, and four more in the fourth.
There, Carranza doubled in Cananova Donaldson, Carranza scored on a sacrifice fly and Brycen Bell and Billy Crowe, who had each singled, came in on a double by Mike Castrignano.
But that was all the scoring the Cowboys would get until the 11th, and Taos slowly and methodically chipped away at the lead.
Taos got on the board in the third on an opposite-field home run by Khyle Dimino that drew effusive praise from Leahy.
“To hit a home run in that park, but to also hit a home run opposite field is pretty impressive,” he said.
Later in the inning, Louie Gonzales walked, stole second, took third on an error and came home on a sacrifice. The Blizzard added another pair in the fourth when Gonzales singled in Chris Constantino, who singled; and Eric Berkowitz, who walked.
After that, the Blizzard scored one run in each of the next three innings.
Dimino singled in John Apostolo in the sixth; Constantino singled in pinch runner Jason Berrios in the seventh after Berrios came in to run for Eric McGee, and stole second and third; and John Apostolo scored on a balk in the eighth after singling, stealing second, and going to third on a Dimino single.
That tied the game at 7-7 and by that time, both starters — Berkowitz and Castrignano — were long gone, as were five Alpine relievers and two Taos relievers.
Javier Perez went through the 10th for Taos, allowing four hits but no runs; and Scott Hartling and Carlos Camacho wrapped up for Alpine — Camacho getting the win after walking the bases loaded in the top of the 11th and getting out unscathed. Then, in the bottom of the 11th, with Sam Briend on the mound for Taos, Logan Lotti doubled, Crowe and Mike Dobre walked and Fox singled in Lotti for the win.
“We showed a lot of resiliency during a time of a lot of travel and just a lot going on,” Stevens said. “Rolled into town just before batting practice and they played their butts off. We’re still striking out too much and leaving too many players on base. But like I said, we’re progressing. We’re moving forward. And championship teams win even when they don’t play well, so I will take a win. There’s still things I’m not happy about and things we need to work on and move forward on.”
Leahy was also happy, praising not only Dimino — who was 3-for-5 with one run and 2 RBI — and pinch runner Berrios, but fill in outfielder James Martinez.
“(He) really kept them from scoring runs. To have a guy who normally plays second base, to go out there and play right and left fields and catch balls and throw balls in and do it like he’d been doing it for a while, that really helped us too.”
Leahy was also happy all but two or three of his 25-man roster saw playing time.
“I’m happy. Everyone got in. Our pinch hitters came through. Our bullpen came through. We intentionally walked guys, something you don’t really practice. We executed that. We executed left on left, righty on right. We ended up intentionally walking four guys, and we came through in three of those situations.”
But he knows the long game will set up an interesting series.
“We put pressure on their pitching and I think we set ourselves up for a great series with Ryan Stevens, considering how much pitching we did use tonight. So it’s going to be interesting to see what card we both play tomorrow.”
That game is set for a 7:05 p.m. start in Kokernot Field.
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