Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Been outside lately? 105 degrees on Wednesday. That’s nothing — the races for baseball’s District 4-4A and 5A are even hotter. Roswell is .500 in district and has a big matchup with district-leading Hobbs in a doubleheader on Friday.
Goddard started the season shakier than a leaf blowing in the wind, has righted the ship and is undefeated. A big-time win against Carlsbad turned their season around. That win has them in a position to remain unbeaten in the district and poised to win their eighth district crown. For both teams, it all comes down to a six-game season.
Goddard (9-5 overall, 6-0 district) had to come from behind against Lovington in a doubleheader on Wednesday.
In the first game, they trailed 4-0 in the first inning and it wasn’t until later innings that they had to come back and hold off the pesky Wildcats, 10-9. In the second game, the team fell behind 6-1 when they erupted for enough runs to end up mercy-ruling Lovington 16-6.
This season coach Gilbert Alvarado has seen stellar play from seniors Gabe Campos and Owen Alsup. Campos is wielding a hot bat and is second on the team in RBIs with 16. He also is tied with Ryan Alsup in runs scored this year with 16. Leading the team in RBIs is Alsup, with 20. So far he has been the team’s most valuable player. Not only has Alsup been dominant at the plate, but he’s been lights-out on the bump. He’s pitched a no-hitter and stopped other teams’ rallies.
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For Goddard, they are getting contributions from Luke Fulkerson, who has scored 12 runs this season. Freshman Jonathan Silva leads the team in batting with a .450 average and an on-base percentage of .667. What is impressive about Silva is that Alvarado put Silva in the ninth spot to keep the pressure off of him and to let him adjust to the speed of the game — and he has made the ninth spot a weapon and extended innings by getting key hits.
“Jonathan has been a big hitter for us in that spot,” Alvarado said. “Our guys are starting to figure out their value to the team. They are expecting to be the best courtesy runner they can be, or whatever I need them to be. All 15 of my players are starting to figure out their roles and playing them well.”
If Goddard is to make the postseason again, they will have to travel the road called Artesia. Both teams meet up Friday and both are undefeated. Artesia has a lefty and a right-handed combination that Goddard has to solve if they want to make the postseason.
One of the things that concerns Alvarado is that his team has graduated and there is no school anymore. He has to hope they are getting their rest and staying out of trouble.
Not only that, but they are not in the heat during the day before or after practice. With so much at stake, this series with Artesia is key. It is not the end of the world if they lose, because the two teams will meet to end the season at Goddard. Goddard would love to have to face them with a three-game lead and those games against Artesia would not matter.
Given the history of the Artesia and Goddard rivalry, many fans will remember how both teams faced off in a three-game series in Artesia in 2018.
On the bump of the first game on Friday was Drew Price, and JR Bustamante was on the hill. Both pitchers were throwing flames and the emotions were raw.
Price was painting the corners and nibbling the inside of the plate. Bustamante was keeping the Rockets off balance with his array of pitches. Bustamante was barking out Price when he struck Price out to get out of a jam. Later Bustamante would double in runs off Price to give them a 4-1 lead. Goddard would peck away and up with the game on the line in the top of the seventh inning, Price was up with the bases loaded. He was behind in the count and on a full count-pitch, Price laced a double to score three runs and tie the game.
Goddard would score another run to win 4-3. It wasn’t over because Price would have to face the heart of the Bulldogs’ lineup, including Bustamante. Not only did Price retire them, but he also busted a move on Bustamante by blowing a fastball by him.
The game on Saturday had the drama and excitement of the Friday game. Goddard had to come from behind to win. In that game, Ty Villareal was masterful and received plenty of support as Eli Fairbanks had big hits. Goddard won 4-1, and captured their district championship.
“We are ready for Artesia,” Alvarado said. “Our goal has been to play for the district title at the start of the year, and it is still the same goal now. We are positioned where we want to be. The boys have an opportunity in front of them. We control our own destiny, which is a nice feeling. Our kids are no longer freshmen, but veterans. They have played a lot of baseball.”
Goddard travels to Artesia for a doubleheader that starts at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Roswell needs to split against Hobbs
Roswell has to be happy to be where they are at. The good feeling is that they control their own destiny and they do not need another team to help them get into the playoffs. All they have to do, starting Friday at home, is knock off the No. 2 team in the state. Hobbs will come into the game confident as they beat Roswell at home earlier this season: 7-4 and 7-0.
Roswell (9-5 overall, 3-3 district) has had a big season from Rhett Stokes, who has added the home run swing to his game to go along with knockout defense. On the mound, the team is getting powerful pitching from Taymon Burrola, Andrew Sedillo, Brady Villegas and Cheeto Lomeli as the team took two games from Clovis on Tuesday with 12-2 and 16-2 wins.
Roswell has won three games in a row and has been a force in the district. Roswell lost the opening game to Carlsbad with their powerful pitcher Nolan Perry. The team bounced back and took the second game 3-1. Roswell has a shot, but it is daunting. They will have to split with Hobbs this weekend and split with Carlsbad and all but sweep Clovis again.
The rallying cry two years ago was to win 13 games. With six games left in the season, Roswell could eclipse the 13-win mark and have the best season they have had record-wise and still be sitting home come the playoffs.
“We are about one game behind where I thought we would be,” Roswell coach Tyrell Curtis said. “We have a big game against Hobbs Friday. We have to split and get one of those games. They are the No. 2 team in the state, so it won’t be easy. We had a chance in our first game with them but we made a couple of errors. If we don’t have errors we can play with anyone.”
Roswell has had huge hits from Villegas and Raul Guzman along with a power surge from Hunter Myers-Palma. Rhett Stokes teams with his freshman brother Ross Stokes and the team has flourished this season. Roswell, even if they split with Hobbs, will need to beat Carlsbad twice. Roswell and the Cavemen are currently tied for second place.
The good news for the Coyotes is that Carlsbad has to face Hobbs to end the season. With only eight teams going to the dance — the six district winners and two at-large teams — Roswell has to move up from their No. 11 ranking in the state. On Friday, they can do something about their future.
A concern for coach Curtis is the heat and his kids being out of school. With so much time on their hands, he has scheduled practice for 9 a.m. to get the kids up and offer structure to their lives for the next six games.
Curtis can be proud of this team that seemed like the skinny kids at the beach, getting sand kicked in their faces three years ago. Now, they have gotten on a lifting program and are able to stand up to the bullies of District 4-5A. This group of seniors has to play their best baseball in the next six games.
The one favorable thing the Coyotes have going for them this season, they are 5-1 at home. They have pitching depth, something they haven’t had in a while. Roswell has the senior leadership, and if they can not make errors and stay focused, they can make a run and be the first Roswell team to make the baseball playoffs in District 4-5A.
“I feel like our kids are ready,” Curtis said. “We are playing good baseball right now.”
Maybe that should be the slogan, for the Roswell baseball team to make history and make the playoffs in District 4-5A. They have the capability to get it done.
Roswell plays Hobbs Friday at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Joe Bauman Stadium.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.