Home Sports Local Sports Roswell Invaders open season with a win

Roswell Invaders open season with a win

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Roswell Invaders first baseman Adam Klos stretches to catch the ball and get an out over White Sands Pupfish batter in the first inning Thursday night as Invader pitcher Kyle Herrick looks on. (J.T. Keith Photo)

The Roswell Invaders hopes the rest of their season goes as it did against the White Sands Pupfish of Alamogordo. On Thursday night at Joe Bauman Field in Roswell, the Invaders were beating the Pupfish, 22-6, in the top of the sixth-inning at press time. Twice in the game, the Invaders scored eight runs. They also had their home run bats working by hitting three in the game.

Roswell’s Zack Carmody has the ball and is waiting on White Sands base runner trying to stretch a single into a double in the first inning. The White Sands runner was thrown out. (J.T. Keith Photo)

The Invaders — one of the original teams of the Pecos League, which began play in 2011 — are hoping to conquer their fourth league title in franchise history. The Invaders won their first Pecos League title in the league’s inaugural year, followed by their second league championship in 2013 and third in 2015.

Professional baseball had not been played in Roswell since 1959 prior to 2011. “Roswell has been one of our marquis franchises,” said Andrew Dunn, Pecos League Commissioner. Coming to an Invaders game is an experience. Fans can expect to see the bases painted in Invaders green.

“I definitely spend part of my day spray painting the bases,” said Relly Mercurio, second-year manager who served as an assistant in 2016 and 2017.

Mercurio last week selected his team for the 2019 season. The team had four holdovers from last year and he was responsible for filling out the rest of the roster. The players chosen usually have little or no professional ball experience.

“You got to understand that many of these guys are chasing a dream with the hopes of making it to the big leagues,” Mercurio pointed out. The reality is the closest that one of these players will get to the Major Leagues will be watching a game from a big league stadium.

Those who make the Roswell team will earn an estimated $3,500 for a 70-game season. That accounts to $50 a game — these players are playing for the love of the game and not the “Benjamins.”

“It’s about the love of the game,” Mercurio said. However, the game can be cruel. The Invaders are not affiliated with any major or Minor League clubs. Some Invaders could have a banner year with home runs hit, or be an ace pitcher with a great winning record and never be heard of.

However, with social media, there is hope for players who were outstanding in high school or blue chip picks in college.

Their parents who lugged them weekend after weekend on traveling teams are encouraged that some scouts will seek them out on social media sites and come watch their kid perform. So far in the history of the Pecos League, no player has made it to the Major Leagues.

“It doesn’t stop them (from) trying,” said Mercurio. Coming into this season, the players on this roster know the odds are against them. But no one can measure their hearts. Last week, players came into Roswell in their beat-up trucks and cars hoping to make the team. Those who made the team will be looking for a sponsor family to house them for the season.

Because there is no team bus, most of the players will use their own vehicles to go from one Pecos League town to another.

Some of those trips will be long in travel especially when the Invaders travel to play teams in the Pacific Division. Those teams are the Monterey Amberjacks, Bakersfield Train Robbers, last year’s league champs, California City Whiptails, High Desert Yard Birds and the Tucson Saguaros.

The Mountain Division includes the Invaders, the Pupfish, the Alpine Cowboys, Santa Fe Fuego, Trinidad Triggers and the Garden City Wind. The Invaders can expect to put on about 12 to 15,000 miles on their cars this season.

That’s life in the Pecos League. Next week a preview of this year’s Invaders.