Raton picks up seasons first victory vs. Fuego
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
RATON — Raton fans have been packing the stadium since the season opened, coming early and staying late despite not seeing much success from their team. But their patience paid off Sunday, as the Oso topped Santa Fe 12-6, getting the win from reliever Tim Sylvester, who allowed only one Fuego run in the final four innings.
“It feels wonderful,” said Raton manager Ray Hancock. “We were in the game all the way. We were in several games. Actually, we should be 3-2 right now, but my boys never give up, even on the games we lost. I know they’re extremely happy to win their first professional baseball game. I’m happy for them and I hope things work out for the rest of the year.”
Both starting pitchers — Brian HIcks and Jessie Meier — struggled a bit, allowing five runs apiece
Santa Fe opened the scoring when Kyle Zimmerman singled in Josh Barnett, then Barnett came home on a Devonte Odoms double.
Raton matched that in the bottom of the stanza when Steadman Smith doubled and Logan Morello walked, then both stole a base and Smith scored on a ground out that advanced Morello who came home on a wild pitch.
The Osos took the 3-2 lead in the second on an error, single by Travis Fuquay and fielder’s choice, then the two teams mirrored each other again in the third.
Fuego Josh Barnett singled, stole second and came home on an Eric Scott single then Louie Saenz walked for Raton, coming around on an error and Bret Smith single.
The Osos stretched their lead to 5-3 in the fourth when Fuquay was hit and stole his way home.
Santa Fe tied it at 5-5 in the fifth when Josh Barnett triple and scored on a putout and Scott and Larry Rodriguez both singled, with Scott coming home on an error.
Santa Fe got its final run in the sixth off Sylvester, whoi walked Jimmie Maxwell. Maxwell advanced on an error and wild pitch, then came home on a fielder’s choice. But in the bottom of the stanza, Raton broke it open.
After getting the first out, Meier walked Fuquay then Smith singled. That brought in Derrick Sampel, who struck out Morello but then gave up a 2 RBI single to Saenz and a 2 RBI home run bu Michael Lange, something Hancock said was long overdue.
“(He was) due for a home run from the get-go,” the manager said. “He slammed one probably 450 feet if I had to guess tonight.”
The Osos added three more in the seventh when Doyle walked and scored on an error; Fuquay reached on a fielder’s choice and Smith was hit, with both coming in on a Morello single off reliever Brandon Jordan.
Santa Fe manager Bill Moore was disappointed with his team’s effort.
“We didn’t play as well as we’re capable of and I think they played pretty well, and it was just a combination of those two things and we wound up on the short end,” he said.
Hancock had praise across the board, singling out a number pf players.
“My shortstop (Doyle). Of course my catcher (Zach Kreegar) came through in a big way. We’ve had some catching problems. He stood up and made a point of being a real catcher tonight. So that was a big deal. Our pitchers, I’ve had good pitching the whole series, both with Trinidad and (Santa Fe) so far, we just had poor defense and our brains sort of fell apart a few times. Other than that, things are good.”
Ratons hitting was also spread out, with only Smith getting more than one hit. Barnett was the only Fuego with multiple hits, going 3-for-5.
The teams have one more game at Gabriele Park before heading back south to Santa Fe, and Moore said the plan for Monday is simple.
“For us to pick ourselves up and play Fuego baseball,” he said. “I think we just need to execute. We need to get a little more focused. We need to get ahead in counts with pitchers and when the pitcher gets a ground ball, we need to make the play. We can do that.”
Hancock’s plan is equally simple.
“Well, we plan on winning, that’s the main plan,” he said. “I really haven’t had a chance to think about it because I do go one game at a time.”
Game time Monday is 7 p.m.
Phil Grondin contributed to this story
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