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The No. 7 sports moment of the year

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Logan Mathison gets ready to bat against Farmington May 12 in Albuquerque. (Stephen S. Shanor Photo)

For former Goddard baseball player, Gilbert Alvarado, it was like a dream come true when he was selected to replace baseball coach Alan Edmonson. Alvarado was applying his trade at Ruidoso — where he managed to take his team to a couple of championship games in his tenure there — when he got the call to come back home and manage the Rockets.

“It was a great opportunity to come back and coach at my alma mater,” Alvarado said. “It gave me a chance to be close to my family again. I enjoyed my time playing for Goddard and wanted to make sure the program stayed on the right track.”

Alvarado had to adjust to a higher level of competition, but not only that, he took over a squad that had gone to four straight 5A championship games and was the defending champs.

“You always feel pressure taking over any team,” Alvarado said. “But the pressure came from myself wanting to have a successful program. I wanted to positively impact the players I coach on the field and off.”

Alvarado felt like making it to the state is hard, because it requires a team to play 30 games to get there. He felt like there is a certain amount of luck, skill, discipline and toughness that play a part.

“I’m very proud of the team last year,” Alvarado said, “and all they accomplished. It was just a bad time not to play well. The success of this program should not be overlooked or taken for granted. I remind our players and community that when schedules are made for the next year, Goddard isn’t penciled into the state championship game by default.”

Alvarado feels like every team they play gives their best effort to beat Goddard. Most teams use how they play against Goddard as a measuring stick for their program.

“I just hope people realize how incredible this five-year run has been,” Alvarado said, “and that they respect the dedication, effort and toughness the players have shown year after year to get there.”

In his first season at the helm, Alvarado had his team fight back from a deficit against Farmington to tie the score. Goddard had a chance to win back-to-back titles in his first season. For his team’s efforts, they’re the RDR’s No. 7 sports moment of the year.

Sun and errors block Goddard from win

From the May 13 edition of the Roswell Daily Record

Anyone can make excuses for a loss — and the sun is a part of the game of baseball. Except for the second straight day, the sun in right field played a role in the outcome of the game. What does that have to do with Saturday’s championship game between Farmington and Goddard? Everything.

In the 6A game between Piedra Vista and Rio Rancho on Friday, the game was played at 3 p.m. — the sun shined so brightly it caused each team to commit three errors on balls hit to right field.

With the championship game being played at 3 p.m. Saturday, the same thing happened to the Goddard Rockets. Goddard gave up four unearned runs because of errors in right field, and bad baserunning contributed to the Rockets’ losing the game to Farmington, 5-3, at Isotopes Park.

Goddard did not play relaxed and loose like the day before when they thumped Belen. Instead, they looked like they were tight and trying not to make mistakes. The whole season when they have lost, it has been because of a lack of concentration or errors. Saturday it looked like they were tight — they were swinging at bad pitches, and a Scorpion player threw behind a baserunner, picking him off.

In the field, not only did they lose balls, mainly in right field, they could not make the simple play. Goddard players were called for interference that allowed an inning to continue for Farmington.

“Yeah it was basic plays,” Goddard coach Gilbert Alvarado said. “If we make those plays it is 2-1. Hardwick gave us a chance and that’s all we ask for. We drop pop-ups, kick ground balls and throw the ball away and they took advantage of it. They didn’t let us off the hook — we make basic plays and we’re still in this game.”

Drew Price reached base on a walk to start the second inning and made it to second base when the pitcher overthrew the first baseman on a pickoff play. Ty Villareal came up and laced a base hit to left field to score Price and give the Rockets a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the second, Emilio Pardo doubled down the left field line, the next hitter, Isaiah Royce, hit the ball back to Hardwick who took the out at first base, and the runner advanced to third base. Pardo would score on a wild pitch to tie the game at 1-1.

In the third inning, Farmington scored another run because of errors to lead, 2-1. It stayed a close game until the top of the fourth inning when Hardwick drew a walk. Rusty Ross came in to pinch run for him. Farmington coach Sean Trotter made a pitching change, bringing in Isaiah Jaramillo. Jaramillo threw a fastball to Mathison, who singled to left field as Ross raced to third base. Noah Nunez hit the ball to the shortstop allowing Ross to score and tie the game, 2-2.

“I thought we were starting to get going,” Alvarado said. “We had those errors and then things spiraled out of control. God bless Hardwick, he put us in a position to win. We didn’t have it, whether it was our own nervousness. We didn’t get it done, we had our shot.”

In the bottom of the fifth, the Scorpions scored two runs giving them a 4-2 lead. It appeared that the inning would end with a double play that Goddard had made, but the third base umpire called off the outs motioning to second and third base. Goddard was called for interfering with a baserunner, which allowed the runs to score. In the sixth inning, Farmington scored another run to give them a 5-2 lead going into the seventh inning.

Yet, for all of their nerves and miscues, it came down to one last stand. Senior Logan Mathison popped up to the first baseman, who lost the ball in the sun and dropped it, making Mathison safe. Matt Shanor worked a walk from their pitcher putting runners on first and second.

Cameron Stevenson hit a shot deep in the hole, the shortstop ranged to his right near the grass, dove for the ball, and came up with it — but by the time he did all of the runners were safe. Farmington tried the hidden ball trick to try and catch Shanor asleep at second base.

Drew Price came up with the bases loaded and worked the count to 2-2, and was hit by a pitch, scoring a run to make it, 5-3. Farmington coach Sean Trotter had seen enough and went to his closer, Danny Carpenter, who throws the ball sidearm. The next Goddard batter hit the ball hard to shortstop, who threw it to second base for the force out to end Goddard’s title reign.

“I don’t think people realize how hard it is to get to the championship game,” Alvarado said. “You have to have a few things bounce your way, the kids have to be tough and in shape and determined. The fact that these boys expect nothing less than to be here, I’m proud of them.”