Pupfish hang on despite ninth-inning grand slam by DiMatteo
Pupfish Matt Gibbs throws to a Trinidad batter during Friday’s game at the Aquarium. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
ALAMOGORDO — For the third night in a row, it was a down-to-the-wire game at the Aquarium in Alamogordo. Friday, the Pupfish edged Trinidad 9-7 after the Triggers came back from a 9-3 deficit in the ninth with a grand slam home run by Sam DiMatteo, but Nate Alexander bore down to get the final outs.
Pupfish manager Ernie Munoz said he wasn’t concerned as the Triggers closedvthe gap.
“I wasn’t worried the whole time,” he said. “We had our closer (Alexander) in with a huge lead, something he’s not used to, so his job is when we’re in a closer game. Two or three runs. So once that home run happened I think he got more comfortable.”
For most of the game the scoring was on the White Sands side of the scoreboard, and Trigger manager J.D. Droddy had kind words for the winners.
“It was a very exciting ballgame in Alamogordo tonight. We came up on the short end but I thought we played pretty well,” he said. “White Sands played well. They made some excellent plays. (J.J.) Constantino in center field made a fantastic diving catch that cost us maybe one or two runs. Their starting pitcher, (Matt) Gibbs), did an excellent job. One of my players called him ‘a crafty pitcher.’ I agree with that. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff but he did a great job. I congratulate White Sands on a hard-won victory and the fans really enjoyed it.”
Neither side scored in the first, but after Joey Friedman tripled in the second, he was thrown out on a fielder’s choice by Jerry Gonzalez, then Gonzales came around on a walk and error.
Trinidad went up 3-1 in the third. Dylan Porter reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on a Matt Hunt single and Jacob Fabry double. Mike Goldy then doubled Hunt and Fabry in.
But the Pupfish came back in the bottom of the stanza, scoring when Christian Ramirez singled, went to second on an error and came home on a single by George Ban. Cody Collins then walked, Chris DeBiasi was hit, and Ban came in on an out. Gonzales then singled in Collins to make it 4-3, and from then until the ninth, all the scoring came from the ‘Fish.
The fourth looked a lot like the fifth from the White Sands perspective.
Constantino and Ramirez singled, then, after Ban hit into a fielder’s choice, Constantino scored on a Collins single; Ban scored on a single by Andrew Parrish; and Collins and Parrish scored on a 2 RBI single by DeBiasi.
In the fifth, Gonzales singled, advanced on two outs and scored on a passed ball, then things quieted down until the top of the ninth.
Will Leonard and Andrew Azzopardi singled and Richie Serritella was hit to load the bases. That set up DiMatteo’s heroics, and, on an 0-1 count, he blasted a shot out the park.
But Alexander, who came in in relief in the top of the inning, struck out Hunt; got Fabry to ground out and, after walking Goldy, struck out big Trigger hitter Florio to end the inning and game.
Munoz, who just managed Friday, sounds happy with what he’s seeingf.
“We’re playing well,” he said. “Our starters did well today. Matt threw a great game today. I think he went seven. He had six strikeouts. Didn’t give up too many hits (six). George Ban, our left fielder, he had a few hits in there (3-for-5, two runs, 1 RBI) and a huge defensive play in the outfield. We had a talk last night after the game, and I think the wheels are going to start rolling here.”
And, after several days with numerous errors, the Pupfish only had two.
“I was really happy with our defense. That was part of the conversation we had with the team last night. We just have to start making the routine plays, and we did that to the best of our ability tonight.”
The teams will be back at it Saturday with a 6 p.m. start at the Aquarium.
“It was a good ball game and we’ll come back tomorrow expecting to take the lead in the series,” Droddy said. “We always expect to win and tomorrow’s no different. We’ve got a great team. There’s no quit in them. I love my guys. They play hard. We’ve got a lot of talent and we’re coming back to play hard again and hope maybe the White Sands fans will turn out and get their money’s worth. They certainly got their money’s worth tonight.”
A White Sands runner is caught in a pickle as he tries to come home. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
A Trigger takes a swing. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
For more information visit Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs LLC. http://www.PecosLeague.com 575-680-2212