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Baseball season off to a slow start

For the second year in a row, the Pagosa Springs High School baseball team was no-hit in their first game of the season.

In a 9-1 loss to Montezuma-Cortez High School, the Pirates had only three baserunners, but allowed the Panthers 16 walks in six innings.

Despite the lopsided statistics, Coach Dave Close viewed the game as a promising sign for his team on the season.

“It was a little better than I expected,” Close said.

The Pirates’ sole run and only three base runners came in the top of the first inning, when Austin Jackson earned a walk in a 12-pitch at-bat. Jackson’s walk was followed by a walk by Austin DeVooght.

Koby Close then grounded out, advancing the runners and was followed by a ground out from Mason Laverty that scored Sean Blanchard, who was running for Jackson due to a hamstring problem.

“We looked like a team that hadn’t batted much outdoors,” Close said of the game.

Close added that he was proud of the team’s three players coming from basketball —?Tyson Ross, Clay Ross and Daniel Puskas — noting that they haven’t practiced baseball since August.

“Hitting a baseball is tough, then when you haven’t done it since August, (it’s tough)” Close said.

Close said he treated the game as a scrimmage, giving six players experience pitching in a game situation in order to gauge the pitching potential of the team.

“We’re kind of excited because we have six that showed the potential,” Close said.

Close said DeVooght, Tyson Ross and Mason Laverty performed the best on the mound, walking two batters between the three pitchers.

Ross went into the game with no practice due to his role on the third-place Pirate basketball team (see related story), impressing Close with his performance.

Jackson, Blanchard and Ty Lovato allowed 14 walks between the three.

“We’re just going to take it from there,” Close said.

Close said that, without the walks, the teams could have been looking at a 2-1 score.

“I thought we did all the things we wanted to do and we played hard like a team,” Close said, adding that the team has shown great improvement over a year ago.

At the plate

Close said, despite being no-hit, the team recorded a number of quality at-bats, which he defines as a walk, base hit, sacrifice or making the opposing pitcher throw at least seven pitches in the at-bat.

He added that the team hit a number of pitches hard, unfortunately right at their opposition.

In the field

The Pirates recorded only two errors on the day and, according to Close, “did pretty well.”

The coach added that, despite having less realistic practice than the infielders, the outfielders performed well, handling all six fly balls well.

“They did a nice job, a really nice job,” Close said.

On deck

Next weekend, the Pirates will travel to Moab, Utah, for a tournament at Grand County High School, where they are expected to notch three more games, one on Friday and two on Saturday.

This week, the team has the advantage of being able to work out on their field (nearly a month earlier than last year due to weather conditions) and are working on preventing baserunners from stealing and on pickoffs, while, on the other side of the token, working on being more aggressive offensively on the base paths.

In addition, Close said the team will continue working pitching and batting “until the sun goes down.”

randi@pagosasun.com

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