Carden gives Fuego complete game, first-ever winning record
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
SANTA FE — The Pecos League saw another complete game Thursday, this time from Santa Fe pitcher Austin Carden, who went the distance in topping the Blizzard 8-3. That victory also gave the Fuego a first: the first time in the team’s history they had a winning record (5-4).
“It’s great,” enthused Santa Fe manager Bill Moore. “Good team to beat, and I don’t mean that from a negative standpoint. They’re a good ball club and we came out on the top end and it put us in a situation we’ve never been in before and it’s wonderful.”
“Me and Bill have been wanting this for the last almost two years now,” agreed assistant coach Chunk Sarnak, who’s leaving the Fuego temporarily to manage the Pecos Developmental League. “This is great to have. A good feeling. Everyone’s positive. Everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to. The wins are coming. It’s a great feeling.”
Carden, who in his last start went 8.1 inning and allowed only one hit, allowed nine hits, but scattered them across six innings while striking out six.
“He threw three ground-ball double plays tonight which was huge,” Moore said. “That kept his pitch count down, and it gave him an opportunity to get into the later innings. And he threw very well.”
The Fuego went up 1-0 in the first off a lead-off double by Josh Barnett, who scored on two outs.
Taos took the lead in the top of the second when Chris Constantino walked and Cody Coffman homered. But that was the last run the Blizzard would get until the ninth; meanwhile, the Fuego went up for good in the third with four runs off Taos starter Drew Evans.
After Anthony Welsh walked, Bryson Sims singled and three runs scored on a Josh Barnett home run. Charlie Calamia then walked and came around on a stolen base and two outs.
Santa Fe added three insurance runs in the fifth, plating Josh Barnett and Jimmy Maxwell on a two-out Maxwell home run followed by a solo shot by Chris Wakefield.
Four Taos relievers — Mike Russo, Mike Londino, Kenny McDowall and Sam Briend — shut the Fuego down the rest of the way, but the Blizzard only managed one more run: on a Constantino double that scored Blair Springfield in the ninth.
Carden was happy with the win.
“I feel great,” he said. “It always feels great to give my team a chance to win and anything I can do and hopefully we can keep winning from here.”
Taos manager Matt Leahy didn’t like the loss, but again saw positives.
“Seems like it’s the same story,” he said. “They come in and they hit the long ball and they put up runs early then we’re able to shut them down but tonight it was just we weren’t able to score too many runs late, and when you score that many runs early, like Santa Fe did, you tip your hat.”
Leahy praised starter Drew Evens, who, he said, only threw three bad pitches.
“He did very well,” the manager said. “We chalked it up to three different pitches he missed on locations, and unfortunately in this park, those three different spots ended up over the creek and in the woods. So it is what it is, and if you were to tell me this morning that our starting pitcher would have only missed three pitches the whole time he pitched, I’m still proud of him. At the end of the day he did well and he’ll get out on the bump in five days.”
Both teams also played solid defense, with no errors officially recorded.
“Everybody played pretty good D tonight,” Moore said. “Our catcher threw a couple of guys out. They’re an aggressive team and when they get a guy on base they’re going to get some action out of it and we kind of shut that down tonight. And you gotta go back to Carden. Carden held the runners and he made them earn what they got.”
“We pride ourselves on defense,” Leahy said. “Obviously, the long ball makes for high-scoring games. We’ve become accustomed to that. But our defense is something we pride ourselves on that’ll get us to the next level.”
The teams will meet again Friday for the sixth time this season, and for the next two games at Fort Marcy, Taos will be the home team. Because they have only 14 games in Taos, they get the final at bat numerous times while on the road. Neither coach plans on doing anything different, though.
“Same plan as it was today,” Leahy said. “We get a good strong pitching performance. Get him through the fifth. Couple of pinch hit home runs and hopefully put up more runs than Santa Fe at the end of the day.”
Moore will be starting Gil Tussey, who was good for five inning the last time out before he tired.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys in the bullpen who are trying to get an inning or two and I hope Gil keeps them in the bullpen tomorrow,” the manager said.
Phil Grondin contributed to this story
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