Fuego dig their way out of deep deficit vs. Taos
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
SANTA FE — Santa Fe and Taos continued their back-and-forth at Fort Marcy Park Sunday, with the Fuego evening the series at 2-2 with a 19-14 victory over the Blizzard.
The win also knotted the two teams at 6-6 in the Pecos League North standings with both teams heading into first-time series with division rivals.
While absolutely no statistical information or play-by-play was available on Sunday’s game, the coaches discussed it afterwards, giving some insight into what happened.
Taos jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the top of the first, meaning Santa Fe had to battle back from the get-go.
“It was a hard-fought victory,” said Fuego manager Bill Moore. “We kind of spotted them several runs and I was not a very happy man for about three innings and we finally got Derrick Sampel out of the bullpen and he started doing some business on the hill for us. But, tough way to come back, you keep spotting runs and making the offense challenged all night.”
The Fuego picked up three runs in the bottom of the stanza and then slowly chipped away at the lead, something Taos manager Matt Leahy said was because of the balls.
“Our pitcher came out, started strong, but with the balls we used in this series, which are different from any other series, the laces are a lot higher and our pitcher developed a blister early, which meant he had to come out and they pretty much caught us with our pants down. It won’t happen again,” he said.
Leahy wasn’t making excuses, but said things happen in small-town baseball.
“We shouldn’t have been using those balls. Rawlings sent Santa Fe the wrong balls, so it is what it is. It happens. It doesn’t happen in the big leagues, but welcome to the Pecos League, again. At the end of the day you chalk it up to it wasn’t the ball’s fault.”
Moore said a big part of the reason for the comeback is team speed.
“I said in our team post-game meeting, that this team was built with speed in mind. And we’ve got six guys in our lineup who have a green light without me doing anything. Just go when you want to. And when we walk a lot of guys and give up early runs like that, it’s hard for us to use our strength, which I believe is speed.”
The Fuego did use that speed to build up a nine run lead before the Blizzard again battled back in the eighth. One thing both coaches agreed on what that the defense was tight throughout.
“We played good defense tonight until the eighth inning and we started to do more than we’re capable of,” Moore said. “I think I told a story about slowing down at the post-game meeting. You try to do more than you’re capable of, you’re not going to do what you’re capable of, usually.”
“Real tight,” Leahy agreed. “It’s been tight over the course of the season. That’s what we pride ourselves on. Ground balls, double plays. When we can turn them we want to turn them.”
Taos now heads home to take on Las Vegas in a noon matchup Monday, and while Leahy knows the Train Robbers have been improving as the early season goes on, he’s still hoping his team can use its high-altitude field to power them to victory.
“All in all, they’ve been struggling in the bullpen like us,” he said. “So we’ll make the changes accordingly and hopefully still strive to put up as many runs as we can and keep them to as little runs as we can.”
Santa Fe heads north to Trinidad, where Moore’s goals are simple.
“Good baseball. Let’s just get after them right away,” he said.
Phil Grondin contributed to this story
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