The New Mexico Military Institute Bronco baseball team moved to 3-1 on the season, sweeping a pair of one-run games in Day 2 of a four-game weekend series vs. visiting Otero Junior College: 3-2 and 2-1.
NMMI had to make the comeback in the first game on Saturday, as the Rattlers plated two in the top of the second thanks to a lead-off walk, two singles and a double.
Otero starting pitcher Edwing Corrales silenced the NMMI bats during his four complete innings, allowing just one hit and two walks.
But in the bottom of the fifth, the Broncos drove in three to take the lead. Johnnie Nemecek started the rally, taking first with one out after being hit by a pitch. Miguel Soto drew a walk. Gavy Perez hit a single into shallow center to load the bases. Cedric Reynaud, the hero of yesterday’s Game 1 with the walk-off double, hit a clutch single to drive in Nemecek. JoJo Escarcega got a base on balls, tying up the contest, 2-2, and picking up his first RBI of the season. Dylan DiLorenzo came into pinch hit and put NMMI out on front with what would become the winning run, drawing another walk with bases loaded.
Three pitchers combined for the seven innings of play. Starter Julian Galindo went four, allowing two earned runs off six hits and a trio of walks, along with three strikeouts. Eric Estrada threw two scoreless innings in relief, giving up two hits while collecting four Ks. Jadon Archuleta needed just 10 pitches to sit down Otero in order during their final at-bat, picking up NMMI’s first save of the season.
Game two was another low-scoring defensive battle, but NMMI jumped out in front with two runs in their first at-bat. Nemecek again was the initial catalyst, leading off with an opposite-field triple down the right-field line. Julian Galindo then hit an RBI single up the middle and after swiping second, came around to score on a single to left by Perez.
Neither team plated a run until the Rattlers finally got on the scoreboard with a single run in the top of the fifth.
The Institute pulled away in the last two innings, tallying half of their 10 hits in the game during that stint, and posting a single spot in the bottom of the seventh and three more in the bottom of the eighth.
The Broncos’ run in the seventh was scoring by Nicholas Palomino, who led off with a double came in on a Perez single to right.
In the eighth, Jadon Hutchins led off with a walk. Isaac Alcantara then doubled; Hutchins scored on a ground out by Paulo Rodriguez and Rudy Solis was hit by pitch. Palomino then doubled to right plating Alcantara, with Solis finally touching home plate on a ground out by Henry Paulino.
Five pitchers toed the rubber for NMMI in the second game, with the four relievers combining for a no-hit performance during the last 4.1 innings of play. Starter Gerry Lerma, Jr. went 4.2 innings, allowing five hits and one run with two walks and three Ks. Estevan De La O threw one pitch and got one out to help NMMI retain their slim lead through the top of the fifth. Alan Aguero pitched the next two innings and had one strikeout; Jake Guerrero completed the eighth by striking out all three Rattler batters, and Alex Bustamante collected two strikeouts as the Institute closer.
Three players hit .500 or better during the two games on Saturday. Alcantara was a perfect 2-for-2 with two doubles and a run scored; Nemecek was 4-for-8 with a triple and two runs; and Perez went 2-for-4 with a pair doubles, an RBI, and a run.
“We got a little bit better offensively today,” said Bronco head coach Chris Cook. “But the story of the weekend goes to the bullpens. Our bullpen held serve –we pitched 15 and a third innings and gave up just one total run, earned or unearned. Their starters pitched late into the game, but their bullpen gave up a few extra runs.”
The Broncos will be back in action next weekend, taking on Eastern New Mexico University’s JV team on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8-9. The first game on both days is slated for a high noon start at the NMMI Ballpark.