If is two letters and one big word. If the young and talented Roswell Coyotes can limit their errors against the No. 5 ranked team in the state, they have a chance to pull an upset. There’s no easy way to say this — the Coyotes need to split with Artesia to have a chance at the playoffs. If they can get enough pitching from they ace Carlitos Montoya to keep the Bulldogs off balance in the batter’s box, and if they can play solid defense and make the routine play, they have a chance. In this game, that’s all Coyote coach Carlos Marrujo III can ask for.
“We have some momentum going into tomorrow,” Carlos Marrujo III said of their Friday sweep of Lovington. “It’s always a plus especially in baseball. If we can split with them, that puts us right back in the hunt for the district.”
Roswell (5-13, 2-2) climbed back into the district playoff race with a sweep over Lovington (8-5, 2-2) Friday night at Joe Bauman Stadium. In both games, the Coyotes showed the ability to bounce back from errors, and instead of letting one error turn into multiple runs, the team settled down and helped their pitcher get out of bases-loaded jams. Look for Xavier Lomeli to pitch one of the games and to throw strikes. Against the Wildcats, he had movement on his fastball and his curveball was dancing in the final three innings to shut out Lovington and throw a complete game. He also had three hits in that game and is one of the hottest hitters on the team.
For five innings on Tuesday, Roswell was trailing powerhouse Goddard 6-2 at the Launch Pad. If not for the one big inning when Goddard scored seven runs, who knows what might have happened. Roswell had given Matt Shanor fits in that game, as the Rockets brought in Cameron Stevenson and Drew Price to finish the first game.
The Coyotes are starting to gain confidence and gain contributions from players like Xavier Garica, who stretched a bloop single into a head-first double that started the rally in which Roswell scored five runs in the fourth inning to take the lead and win the game.
“This gives us a lot of confidence with the wins,” Marrujo III said. “We’re right there, we’re not too far out of it. We have to take away those little things and be ready to go tomorrow.”
Artesia (10-8, 3-1) comes into the game full of confidence after defeating Goddard, 8-5 in the first game of a doubleheader. What undid the Rockets was the five errors they committed in the first game, which Roswell cannot do if they have any hope of winning. Another thing that Roswell will have to do is guard against the long ball as Aaron Natera hit four home runs on Tuesday against Lovington. He also leads the Bulldogs in RBIs with 22. The other power hitter is all-state quarterback Taylor Null; he has two home runs and 17 RBIs. Goddard did bounce back in the second game to win 11-5.
“We need to swing the bats good tomorrow,” Marrujo III said. “I’m assuming whoever they’re going to pitch is going to throw strikes. We have to be solid defensively. We’re preparing today trying to get ready for tomorrow. I think we match up well with anybody.”
Marrujo feels like the biggest step his team has taken this season is that their belief level is up. His young team is starting to believe in themselves and play through the errors. What Marrujo likes most is that his team is aggressive at the plate and on the base paths. Earlier in the season, certain players might have taken called strikes threes looking — now they are swinging not only to protect the plate but to get base hits.
“I know my team can play with anybody,” Marrujo said. “They have to tell themselves they can win against any team we play. If I didn’t think they could, they wouldn’t be up here at the varsity level giving us a chance. I know we’re going to struggle and mess up, but it is how we come back from those things.”
Roswell plays Artesia at 4:30 p.m., today at Joe Bauman Stadium.