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Invaders playing lights out baseball

Roswell Invader shortstop Louis Martini waits for a throw from the Invaders catcher against the White Sands Pupfish at Joe Bauman Stadium. (Brad Winters Photo)

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After two years as an assistant coach, Roswell Invaders coach Relly Mercurio takes the reins and has unleashed a wicked combination of pitching to go along with powerful bats leading the offense. The Invaders have blasted out to a 20-6 record with Brian Portelli leading the Pecos League in hitting. Portelli is batting over .500 with a league-high 54 hits. Portelli also leads the league in RBIs with 48. He’s also in serious contention for a triple crown as he is tied in home runs with 11.

“I’m not surprised,” first-year manager Relly Mercurio said. “We are hitting really well and pitching really well. It’s a great group of guys. I’m surprised that Portelli has not been picked up yet.”

It is not just Portelli alone at the plate. The Invaders have a team full of hitters in the lineup looking to do damage any way they can. The Invaders are a team without an easy out in the lineup with eight batters hitting over .300 and two hitters hitting over .400 as they have a league record of 20-6 at press time.

“We slowed down a little bit on home runs,” Mercurio said. “But the doubles are still there, and every player in the lineup is still a home run threat and can hit a home run.”

A couple of other players are doing damage with their bats at the plate. Logan Coughlin is hitting a hot .393 with eight home runs and has 31 RBIs on the season to go along with 44 hits. Shortstop Louis Martini is batting .327 on the season with seven home runs and 24 RBIs.

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The Invaders are not known as much for their arms as they are known for their power at the plate, but they have gotten great efforts from lefty Carson Corff, who sits atop the Pecos League tied in wins with a perfect 4-0 record and a 3.14 ERA and a WHIP of 1.46. The Invaders have two undefeated pitchers in Jagger Harjo, who is third in the league with a 3-0 record and a 3.19 ERA, with a 1.40 WHIP. Bobby St. Pierre is 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP. Brandon Nylin is 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP.

WHIP in baseball statistics stands for walks plus hits per inning pitched. WHIP is a sabermetric measurement of the number of baserunners a pitcher has allowed per inning pitched. WHIP reflects a pitcher’s propensity for allowing batters to reach base. Therefore, a lower WHIP indicates better performance.

Mercurio feels like there is a lot more work in being the manager than the assistant coach. He loves being here in Roswell and managing the Invaders. With the All-Star game on July 8 in Trinidad, Colorado, Mercurio is hoping to have eight of his players on the team with a shot at managing the team.

With the team doing so well, Mercurio knows that it is only a matter of time before some of his players are called up. He hopes to be ready when that happens. He got the job in October and has been meticulous in being prepared to manage.

“I’m always on the phone,” Mercurio said, “or the internet trying to find guys to replace players or upgrade at a couple of positions.”

Jagger Harjo opened the series against the Alpine Cowboys on Thursday. Carson Corff pitched Friday, Bobby St. Pierre is throwing today and Brandon Nylin is pitching on Sunday.

The Invaders will play the Cowboys at 7 p.m. today at Joe Bauman Stadium.

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