Cowboys hang on for win despite late Pupfish come back
Derrick Fox gets the ball in time to put White Sands player/manager Ernie Munoz out at second. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
ALAMOGORDO — White Sands started and finished strong at home Tuesday, but the middle innings belonged to Alpine, giving the Cowboys an 8-7 victory at the Aquarium.
“Yeah, we held on,” said Cowboy manager Ryan Stevens. “We finally woke up. We were asleep at the wheel early on and finally decided to wake up and play a little baseball. I don’t think we played particularly well, but we did wake up and put a couple of runs on the board and it was enough for us to win.”
The Pupfish put one on board in the first when J.J. Costantino scored on a Cody Collins double, and one in the second when Chris DeBiasi reached on an error then came around on singles by Matt Gibbs and Costantino.
Alpine got its first run in the third on singles by Brycen Bell, Derrick Fox and Casanova Donaldson, but White Sands came back with two in the bottom of the stanza.
Cody Collins reached on a fielder’s choice, then scored on a single by George Ban and RBI double by DeBiasi. Ban came home on a groundout, making it 4-1.
But the Cowboys closed the gap on a two-run home run by D.J. Johnson after a Logan Lotti single, and while a single by Costantino and RBI double by Munoz made it 5-3, that was all the scoring the ‘Fish would get until the ninth. Meanwhile, Alpine kept scoring.
“We actually got to their starter,” Stevens said. “He kept us off balance for a good portion of the game with his cutter. We were chasing stuff in the dirt. Finally I think he started to get a little tired. I think somewhere between 60 and 80 pitches he started to get a little tired and that’s when we hit a couple of big shots off of him.”
The Cowboys put up two in the sixth when Lotti homered, scoring Donaldson; two in the seventh when Brycen Bell singled, Derrick Fox walked and Donaldson doubled them in; and a final run — which would be the difference — in the ninth.
Michael Willis and Brandon Kuter allowed the late-inning runs and that, said Pupfish manager Ernie Munoz, has been the team’s downfall.
“It was our middle relief, like it’s been all year. I don’t want to put it all on them, because it is a team sport and we need to get help from other areas but our bullpen definitely has to get better and come in and throw strikes. When they do, we usually come out on top. When they don’t, we end up like tonight.”
Fox doubled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a Lotti single to take an 8-5 lead. But the Pupfish weren’t ready to surrender.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Ban singled and scored on a Ban home run. Mark Leacox and Jerry Gonzales both singled, putting runners on base, but Alpine closer Scott Hartline bore down, getting a strikeout and fly ball to preserve the victory with a save.
“Their closer, he came in and I thought we hit him well,” Munoz said. “We scored two runs off him and we were a couple of feet from tying the game up. J.J. Costantino line out to left with two outs but hit the ball hard.”
Shane Youngdale got the Cowboy win, going seven, with White Sands reliever Michael Willis getting the loss.
“Youngdale struggled early on, but he settled down his last four innings,” Stevens said. “He got us to the bullpen in the seventh and our bullpen was solid tonight. Scott had a little rough edge, but he’s gotta go through his lumps. This is his first year as a closer and he’s evolving and getting better as he’s going through adversity and adapting to getting hit around a little.”
Offensively, Fox was 3-for-4 with two runs; Johnson 2-for-3 with 1 run and 2 RBI; Bell 2-for-4 with two runs; and Donaldson and Lotti both 3-for-5 with 3 RBI. Donaldson scored one run; Lotti two.
Costantino was 3-for-5 for the ‘Fish with two runs and an RBI; Ramirez, Ban and DeBiasi 2-for-4; and Munoz and Leacoz 2-for-5.
Once again, the plus for the Pupfish was their never-say-die attitude.
“Like we’ve been doing the last week or so, we have a lot of fight in us,” Munoz said. “We’re not going to give up. It’s just a matter of staying ahead when we get ahead. We continue to let the better teams stay in the game with us and we should shut them down.”
The teams will meet again Wednesday and Thursday — both games at 6 p.m. in the Aquarium — which will be the eighth and ninth meetings of the season.
“That only gets harder,” Munoz said. “The more the pitchers, for any team, in any league, the more the pitchers see hitter, they have a step up on them. THey know their weaknesses and it just gets harder to hit.”
Chris DeBiasi gets one of his two hits to drive in one of his 3 RBI. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
D.J. Johnson rounds third, getting congrats from manager Ryan Stevens on a home run. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
Christian Ramirez slides back to first as Dustin Sandberg waits for the throw. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
Derrick Fox makes the throw to Dustin Sandberg to close out a double play. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
Chris DeBiasi comes home with one of his two runs scored. (Photo by Josh Szwaczkowski)
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