Throughout the early portion of their seasons, the Dolores High and Dove Creek High baseball teams have shown the ability to hit consistently, pitch efficiently and win ballgames.
Thus, it was hardly surprising when the San Juan Basin League foes took to the diamond on April 9 and staged an exciting back-and-forth contest that ended with Dolores winning 7-6.
Keying the victory for the Bears was another solid offensive performance by Dakota Smith, who went 3-4 at the plate and drove in a team-high two runs. The star senior is currently hitting .548 on the season and has driven in 20 runs in his team’s 10 games.
“(Smith) has been having a good year at the plate,” Dolores manager Rusty Hamilton said. “He’s batting in the cleanup position for us, and the upper end of our lineup has been getting on so he can have those opportunities to score them.”
Also playing a significant role in the victory for the Bears was senior starting pitcher Neil Farias, who earned the win after he allowed five earned runs over six innings and struck out five batters.
“(Farias) is having a strong year on the mound,” Hamilton said. “He’s a senior who has been in the program for four years and he has become a major contributor wherever we put him on the field and at the plate as well.”
Dolores led 3-2 at the end of the 1st inning before falling behind 4-3 after Dove Creek scored two runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning. After the 3rd inning ended with Dove Creek leading 5-4, Dolores scored two runs in the top of the 4th inning and one run in the top of the 5th inning to take a 7-5 lead.
Sophomore JJ Bruner, senior Cameron Chavez, sophomore Kevin Purkat and sophomore Isiah Knox also drove in runs for Dolores, and Bruner, Chavez, and senior Brennan Hite all hit a double in the contest, which Hamilton described as “beneficial” for both teams.
“Dove Creek was top-five in the state in (Class 1A) and I think it was a positive game for both teams,” the Dolores manager said. “It was a tight game, back and forth, and we just happened to come out with the victory at the end. (Dove Creek) had solid play throughout.”
Dove Creek was led offensively by junior Ty Smith, who went 2-4 at the plate and was credited with two RBIs. Senior Ryan Delano-Martinez also went 2-4 at the plate for the Bulldogs and drove in a single run.
Sophomore Hayden Gray pitched six innings for Dove Creek and allowed one earned run. Errors in the field doomed the Bulldogs, however, as the team yielded six unearned runs in the hotly contested contest.
With its record now at 6-4 overall and 3-2 in the SJBL, Dolores will look ahead to a matchup against Navajo Prep High School, which will take place in Farmington on Tuesday.
“We’ve played them the last couple of years. I think they’re a Class 3A New Mexico team and it looks like they’ve had some positive games and some negative games. Last year, they played us pretty tight and we’re expecting that again from them.”
The Bulldogs, who are now 8-3 overall and 1-2 in the SJBL, returned to the field against Durango High School’s junior varsity team Thursday before they square off against Nucla at home on Tuesday.