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Rockets return to Albuquerque

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Goddard’s Drew Price gets ready to hit a double to score Cameron Stevenson to end Saturday’s state playoff game against Roswell High School. The Rockets won 10-0. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

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Goddard senior pitcher Tyler Hardwick kept the Roswell Coyotes (7-21) in check Saturday at the Launch Pad giving up two hits and striking out four as the Rockets (22-4) shut out their cross-town rivals 10-0 to advance to the quarterfinal round of the 5A state baseball playoffs May 10 in Albuquerque. The game was called after the fifth inning due to the mercy rule.

 

“Tyler Hardwick has done what he has done all year long and pound the strike zone and keep hitters off balance and giving us a chance to win,” Goddard head coach Gilbert Alvarado said. “Even when they got a couple of people on, he never panicked. We made some plays for him and it shows what those boys can do when their minds are right and focused.”

Hardwick was “Mr. Consistent” for Goddard as the Coyotes had runners on base in the second, fourth and fifth innings. However, Roswell High couldn’t capitalize.

“I just tried to throw strikes basically,” Hardwick said. “Fill out the strike zone as best as I can and just trust the guys behind me to make plays and put it in play.”

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While Hardwick was working on the Roswell High hitters, Goddard’s offense was working on Roswell starter Drew Graham and reliever Jose Palomino.

Graham pitched four innings and gave up five runs on eight hits. He also walked four batters and struck out three.

“He came out and threw a lot of strikes,” said Roswell head coach Carlos Marrujo. “He left a couple of pitches up to some very good hitters. That middle part of the line up is probably the best in the state.”

Cameron Stevenson, No. 3 in the Rocket batting order had two hits and drove in a run and scored twice. Fourth place hitter Drew Price had three hits, scored twice, walked and drove in the final run. Ty Villareal, the No. 5 batter, had two hits, an RBI and scored as well.

“They’re pretty deadly and any pitch you miss with them they hit it hard somewhere,” Marrujo said.

Alvarado feels that the Rocket batters were hitting the bull’s eye.

“They focused on having the right approach at the plate and seeing the ball a little bit deeper and not trying to do too much,” Alvarado said.

Palomino came in the bottom of the fifth and gave up five runs on four hits. He didn’t walk or strike out anyone.

The Rockets now head to the Duke City looking to repeat as 5A champions and Alvarado said there is a tradition with Goddard baseball.

“We’ve still gotta lot more baseball games to play,” Alvarado said. “But, by the same token we didn’t want to focus on the finish line. Instead just step-by-step in front of us and I think the boys have done a good job and we’ve done our best and they weren’t thinking about the state game or we need to win the state game to keep this program going. We just need to keep winning innings and that’ll get us where we need to go.”

This is Alvarado’s first season at Goddard High School. However, he is no stranger to the state playoffs . Prior to arriving in Roswell, he coached at Ruidoso High School and the Warriors made the state playoffs six times during his eight years there.

“So we’ve been there before and we know the margin for error shrinks,” Alvarado said. “The pitching becomes a whole lot better. The boys will naturally be a lot more excited, but it’s our job to make sure they’re prepared and after that it’s their job to play.”

The Rockets will face No. 8 Miymura from Gallup. The Patriots defeated Alamogordo to advance to the next round. Both teams faced each other earlier this year at the Goddard Invitational as the home team won 8-2. Alvarado and his staff will make sure Goddard stays on task next week.

“We try to compartmentalize things and make their thought process as small as possible,” Alvarado said. “Because their reaction is to think towards the end of the game and think towards the state championship. Our goal is to keep making them think about this pitch or think about this ground ball. If we can keep their minds narrowed, they’ll do a whole lot better.”

While the Rockets think about next week, the Coyotes are thinking about the offseason. Saturday’s game was the finale for Fermin Portillo and Carlitos Montoya. Marrujo praised the role of the outgoing seniors.

“They’re leaders on and off the field,” Marrujo said. “Carlitos Montoya, you couldn’t ask for a better pitching performance all year that he gave us. Fermin Portillo was a guy that was on and off for the past four years. He missed a couple of years in between there, he came out his senior year and stuck it out and just was a leader for these younger guys.”

The Coyotes had a young team this year and next year, Marrujo knows they will have some experience. Roswell High lost eight seniors from 2017’s team.

“I knew that was going to be a handful itself right there,” Marrujo said of replacing that leadership. “We did a lot of moving around during the preseason and then a little bit into district. But by district, we kind of had an idea of where we were at.”

Marrujo added the Coyotes will have workouts in June that will involve traveling and once the new school year starts, there will be some fall workouts as well.

 

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