Tight two-game split marred by official calls
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
LAS VEGAS — Both coaches in Tuesday’s doubleheader between Las Vegas and Alpine agree the split victory was an exciting pair of games: well played in all aspects with the Train Robbers taking the opener 8-7 and Alpine winning the nightcap 5-4.
“It was a well-played game by both teams all the way around by both teams,” said Vegas manager Casey Dill. “Both teams hit. Both teams played defense. Both team’s pitchers threw strikes and got ground ball outs.”
“I just want to say Casey’s got a great team over there and I’ve got nothing but respect for him and his coaching staff,” said Cowboy manager Ryan Stevens. “They’re both very good friends of mine. It was a great day of baseball competing against each other and I really enjoyed it. It was some good baseball. We had our chances in the first game. We didn’t capitalize on a couple of errors. Bullpen struggled a little bit. But like I said, it was just a couple of little things. In fact, I didn’t think they we poorly. I thought the bullpen and the pitching staff threw all right. It was a good day of baseball. Long day of baseball.”
And that “long day of baseball” comes because of an “only in the Pecos League situation” that saw the afternoon game that was supposed to start about 4 p.m. not start until 6:15 p.m.
“Because there was apparently some sort of huge issue in Santa Fe, and our umpires had to leave to go to Santa Fe because they don’t have the local guys we have,” Dill said. And neither DIll nor Stevens were happy with the replacements.
“The second game we had a very huge, controversial situation with the umpires,” Dill said. “Both teams played the game under protest. I don’t expect any change to come from it. Nothing really comes from a protest, but they definitely had under-qualified, incompetent umpires out there that obviously made a wrong call and it did affect the outcome of the game. I know that Ryan and I were both very upset with the umpires that we had today.”
“The umpires screwed up on both ends for both of us,” he said. “I can’t even pinpoint it. He screwed up a call on Casey’s defense, then he screwed up a call on our defense. I don’t even know how to describe it. It was crazy. It was a crazy day of baseball.
The game just seemed way too fast for (the umpires), and that was fairly obvious.”
Game 1 didn’t have that problem, and started out as a pitching duel between Shane Youngdale and Eddie Medina, neither of whom was around for a decision. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth when two home runs — a solo shot by Matt Grosso and 3-RBI blast by Adam Kam — made it 4-0.
Alpine cut the lead in half in the sixth on an Eric Herman home run, and tied the game in the seventh when Herman and Logan Lotti walked, Joel Carranza singled in Herman and Brycen Bell singled in Lotti.
Vegas retook the lead on a Grosso single, put out and Will Walsh RBI single, then solidified their lead in the eighth when Ryan Lauer walked, Andrew Lopez was hit, A.J. Alexander singled then pinch runner Michael Pena scored on the second out. An error scored Lopez and John Hotta singled in the final run.
Alpine tried to come back in the ninth, but just couldn’t get enough runs. Lotti walked and Carranza doubled, then a series of errors brought in three runs, but reliever Ben Runyon got the final out before the Cowboys could tie the game.
Game 2 was equally close, but with the big umpire mistakes coming late, in the seven-inning game marred a bit by controversy.
The Train Robbers went up 2-0 in the bottom of the second when Dillon Usiak doubled, advanced on a passed ball and scored on a Michael Pena single. Lopez singled in Kam, who had walked earlier.
The Cowboys went up 3-0 in the third on a two-out single by Herman, Lotti walk and Carranza home run.
Las Vegas tied it at 3-3 in the fourth when Kam walked and came home on a hit batter and error, then took a 4-3 lead in the fifth when Walsh doubled and came home on a Kam single. Then came the disputed sixth.
Carranza and Mike Dobre both singled to open the top of the inning. With one out, Bell was intentionally walked to load the bases. Kenshoku Takubo was unintentionally walked, tying the game and leaving the bases loaded.
Bob Cook came in to hit and Derrick Martinez to pitch. The scoring shows Cook hit a sacrifice fly to give Alpine the lead, but Dill said that’s not exactly what happened. After center fielder Alexander made the catch and the umpire ruled out — the inning’s second out — he dropped the ball but then threw to second, catching Bell — who hadn’t tagged up — out, with everyone then leaving the field with no one scoring.
But Stevens argued the call, and after discussion, Dill said the umpire changed his mind about which runner was out (Bell at second going to third vs. Takubo at first going to second), allowing Dobre to score, bringing everyone back on the field with Bell at second. Then, Dill said, he was allowed to appeal a runner tag, which he won, but not before the Cowboys had the lead.
And with Kris Barone and Matt Marra combining to close out the sixth for Alpine, and Scott Hartling the seventh, the Cowboys had the victory.
“He’s got a very good offensive team,” Stevens praised the Robbers. “Trying to hold them down is like trying to hold down an angry pit bull. He’s got quite the offense over there.”
He also had nothing but praise for two of his players.
“Eric Herman and Joel Carranza just went absolutely off today,” he said, calling them “unbelievable today. They were actually unbelievable. I don’t have enough good things to say”
He said Carranza (2-for-4, two runs, 3 RBI) is a great leader with good at bats and in getting the team motivated, while Herman (2-for-4, one run) was on base constantly
“It was two very good games,” Dill said. “Two very good teams playing. And they were well played by both teams.”
Alpine now gets a day off before heading home to face Taos, some place Stevens said his team is very happy to be headed.
“We played what? Twenty-nine, 30 games this year? And seven of them have been at home. Do the math,” he said.
Vegas heads north to Trinidad for what may be the biggest series this season, a six-game, home-away-home matchup with the Triggers.
“We’ve got Edison (Alvarez) going Game 1, Atsushi (Hebisawa) going Game 2,” Dill said. “They’ve been our top two starters and it’s an inter-division matchup. The seeding between first and second can change any way, so yeah. It’s going to be an exciting series between both teams. I expect both teams to come out hungry. Obviously, both teams know the importance of the series. So I expect some very good baseball the next six games, actually.”
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