Everyone is here for a reason. The players on both sides of the field are the best on their teams to make it to this point in their young athletic careers. It’s also not hard to see where the blue and the red begins that continues through high school — Noon Optimist and Lions Hondo are the precursors to Roswell-Goddard.
It was at 4:30 p.m. when Noon Optimist handed out their uniforms and everybody took team pictures and then went about the business of batting practice and getting ready for the game against rival Lions Hondo.
It was all Noon Optimist, behind the stellar pitching of Ayden Luck, who gave up two hits to go along with five strikeouts. Carlos Molina had no hits, one walk with three strikeouts in an inning of work and closer Ethan Morales would give up no hits and struck out one batter as he pitched 2/3 of an inning. Noon Optimist would mercy-rule Lions Hondo 14-0 at the end of five innings.
“I’m just happy with the way the kids came out and played,” Noon Optimist coach James Brown said. “Ayden (Luck) is a great pitcher and he started out great. He was on today. Our bats were going today, and I’m happy to see that.”
Noon Optimist came out on fire with the bats as the team scored two runs in the first two innings and one run in the third and fourth inning, until they opened a gusher and scored eight runs in the fifth inning to end the game.
Noon Optimist bats came with power, as Cameron Brown went 4-for-4; Luck was 3-for-4, Molina was 3-4, Michael Ortega and Wyatt Curry went 2-for-4 each and everyone else had at least a hit. Noon Optimist had 21 hits in the game.
Lions Hondo seemed to be nervous and not only did they lose, but they lost making errors such as running themselves out of innings, or trying to go to third base when the catcher threw behind the runner.
“We didn’t just make the routine plays,” Lions Hondo coach Troy Oswald said. “We extended their offensive innings. Anytime you give a team extra outs and extra opportunities they’re going to take advantage and that’s what they did. We were able to hang in there for a little while, but we just couldn’t get our bats going. It just didn’t go our way today.”
Oswald feels like if Lions Hondo made their plays in the field and put the ball in play when they were at bat, this game might have had a different outcome. Oswald knows that it is only the first game, but they will have to win their next game on Monday when they face the loser of the Noon Optimist-Artesia game. No matter who they face, Lions Hondo is in a must-win situation the rest of the tournament.
Lions Hondo plays Artesia, at Noon Optimist, at 6 p.m. Monday.
One of the things that concerns all teams in the tournament is the pitch count. A pitcher can throw up to 75 pitches in a week. the breakdown is as follows: A pitcher can throw 20 pitches with no days rest. A pitcher can throw 35 pitches with one day’s rest; with 50 pitches a pitcher needs two days rest and for 65 pitches a pitcher needs three days rest, and for 75 pitches four days rest.
“It felt awesome,” Luck said. “I never started a game in all-stars. I only pitched in one game last year in the all-stars. My mom told me at 3 p.m. today and I was nervous. I felt like they would beat us. I was throwing fastballs and my knuckleballs were going down and in on them. I just had confidence in my pitching and I felt really good to play more than last year. I think we can go all the way to Clovis to the championship.”
Noon Optimist plays Artesia today at 6 p.m., at Noon Optimist.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.