Stealing second, Kevin Purkat saw the errant throw from Ignacio catcher Nate Herrera heading toward centerfield, and bolted for third.
Needing to merely hit the ball as far as possible, Dolores’ Cameron Chavez then managed to bloop a single off Ignacio reliever Marcus Chapman just beyond second baseman Ian Weinreich’s reach and score Purkat – who’d drawn a one-out walk as a pinch-hitter – for a 10-9 win Saturday on their Joe Rowell Park diamond.
“I ... wanted that walk-off pretty bad,” said Chavez, who also earned the win on the mound in long relief of Dakota Smith. “It was a little outside, I was focusing and was able to hit the gap. Oh, that was good!”
The Bears (6-10, 4-2 2A/1A San Juan Basin League) knew they would be able to do plenty against the Bobcats, whom they’d routed 15-5 in Ignacio on April 9. And after Chavez (3-5, R, RBI) got the home half of the first inning underway by singling off right-hander Kruz Pardo, Farias would later plate Tel Hamilton, Smith and Justin Purkat with a two-out double to deep left-center for a promising 4-0 advantage.
“Ignacio’s a good team, and they have good pitching,” said Farias, who’d cranked a first-inning, two-RBI double to set the pace in the crew’s previous meeting. “And I was just looking for something elevated – because that’s in my wheelhouse – to drive ... with bases loaded, trying to get us on the scoreboard first.”
“It was definitely a confidence-booster,” Chavez said. “We rely on Neil; he always seems to do it.”
Unavailable for the April 9 test, Pardo capped the visitors’ five-run counterstrike in the top of the second with a bases-clearing double to right off Smith, his initial counterpart on the hill, but Dolores evened the score in the home half with Smith (4-4, 2 R, 2 RBI) singling to left with two out and bringing in Hamilton (1-3, BB, 2 R).
Bears centerfielder Beck Anderson led off the bottom of the third with a double and would touch home via David Schmittel beating out a single hit past shortstop Trace Lovelace, but Ignacio (4-11, 1-4) responded with two runs in the top of the fourth and added two more – via a two-out Pardo triple off Chavez – in the fifth.
Hamstrung by CHSAA’s pitch-count rules, Ignacio boss Bert Miller had to take Pardo off the mound with one away in the bottom of the sixth, giving Dolores access to a shaky bullpen. Left-hander Adam House managed to freeze Brennan Hite with a called third strike, but Smith singled to plate Austin Hackney (running for Chavez, who’d singled).
Justin Purkat (1-3, BB, 2 R, RBI) then walloped a triple to deep center, and Anderson (2-4, R, RBI) followed with a double to right, scoring Purkat and re-tying the score at 9 before House froze Farias (1-4, 3 RBI) to prevent any more damage.
“Once we got into their bullpen,” Farias said, “we started picking up on the other pitchers, realizing ‘Hey, we can do this!’”
“We’ve seemed to struggle with slower pitchers all year long, and my kids wanted to, you know, smash the ball instead of using their smarts and batting like they should,” said Dolores skipper Rusty Hamilton. “Once we started seeing some other pitchers ... we were good.”
Finishing 2-for-4 offensively with a run and an impressive six RBIs, Pardo represented the Bobcats’ last hope after drawing a two-out walk against Chavez. Able to swipe second easily with Herrera at bat, Pardo then tried for third but arrived upright as Tel Hamilton bull’s-eyed a throw to Farias for the out.
He was ruled safe, but the Bears successfully pleaded their case and returned to their dugout ready to end the game while an astounded Pardo sat on the base in silent protest.
“It feels good to finally beat them,” said Chavez, when asked about Dolores going up 2-0 in their three-game set this spring.
“It feels good, you know?” Rusty Hamilton said. “Over the years, Ignacio’s kind of become our rival in baseball, and it’s always nice when we can beat them a couple times.”
Dolores continues league play in Nucla at 1 p.m. on April 26, then hosts Ignacio two days later at 11 a.m.