NMMI Sports Press
It was a tough day for the Bronco baseball team Saturday, as NMMI lost a close 8-6 match to Midland in the opener then lost big in the nightcap, 21-7. But it was the opening game that was much more frustrating for everyone involved, especially since it mirrored Friday’s opener.
“First three games we had a chance to win,” said coach Chris Cook. “Again, we didn’t score as many runs as we needed and got a bad break on a bunt and that cost us two runs. Kind of like the first game, we needed to score a few more to make up for a call that just wasn’t called correctly, and that’s part of the game, but this late in the year it always hurts more because we’re running out of games. I felt good about how we played for three games.”
After a scoreless two innings, the Chaparrals went up 1-0 in the third on three straight singles. But the Broncos matched that and added one in the bottom of the stanza.
Kirby Pimentel reached second on an error, went to third on a passed ball and, after Marion McLean walked, Alex Howard singled in Pimentel then Welch singled in McLean.
Midland then put together a six-run fourth inning, scoring on five singles and two doubles off NMMI starter Preston Inman and reliever Kyle Bosworth.
But Bosworth settled down and held the Chaps scoreless through the next two stanzas, while the Broncos added four in the fifth, closing the gap to 7-6,
McLean led off with a solo home run, then Howard and Winston Welch both singled and came home on a Chris Suarez shot over the centerfield fence.
But NMMI couldn’t score in the sixth or seventh — despite a leadoff double by Welch in the seventh — and Midland added an insurance run in the seventh.
Welch was perfect offensively, going 4-for-4 with two doubles and one RBI and run. Howard was 2-for-4 with a run and RBI.
Game 2 was all Midland, as the Chaps went up 10-0 in the first and never looked back.
“Our worst fear happened in Game 4,” Cook said. “They scored a bunch of runs in the first inning, and we were just not set up for that with our pitching depth right now. It’s a good hitting team. They got a lot of breaks offensively and hit balls where we weren’t. It just snowballed on us. It’s not a lack of effort or anything like that. It just didn’t go our way and it’s a good team.
That the effort was there showed when the Broncos kept trying to score despite the almost insurmountable margin.
Down 18-0 in the second, singles by Justin Felix and Inman and a ground out by Pancho Mariscal took the zero off the NMMI side of the board. Then, after Midland added another pair in the third, the Broncos came back with three when McLean walked, Howard was hit and Felix homered.
NMMI added three more in the fourth when Mariscal singled; Jensen doubled; Pimentel tripled; McLean walked and Howard sacrificed.
The Institute used four players on the mound, including Alex Garcia, Josh Souza, James Santiago and Dallas Griffin. Felix led at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two runs and 3 RBIs.
The three losses don’t make the battle for a playoff spot much easier, so all the Broncos can hope for is some losses elsewhere in the WJCAC.
“We’re in a waiting game to see if we get a little bit of help,” Cook said. “If one of those three teams ahead of us loses a game this weekend, we may still have a chance but we’ll have to wait and see.”
NMMI closes the season at home May 6-7 vs. Frank Phillips, and no matter what the standing look like, Cook would like to end with a sweep.
“We want to play well against Frank at home,” he said. “ Sophomore weekend. Regardless of what the standing situation is and it might be a super long shot for us to get in, but obviously we want to finish on a high note; set some really high bars for future teams to try to reach. We’ve got a chance to finish above .500 in conference for the first time in school history, and that’s basically what we’re going to be trying to do.”