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Pirate bats catch fire against Nucla

Improved pitching was not enough for the Pagosa Springs High School baseball team to tally their first win over the weekend.

Instead, the team recorded three losses at the Grand County High School tournament in Moab, Utah.

“We made some progress,” Coach Dave Close said, adding that the team lost a couple games they should have won.

“I treat these games a lot differently than some coaches do because I pitch everyone and I play everyone,” Close said, explaining that he’s treating the first half of the season as a preseason, preparing the team to face conference opponents in the second half.

Friday, the team took on Grand County and lost by a 7-6 score.

The Pirates tallied three runs in the top of the first inning. Austin Jackson reached on an error and was followed by walks from Koby Close, Austin DeVooght and Mason Laverty, forcing in one run. Two consecutive wild pitches by Grand County brought around two more runs in the inning.

Grand County countered with three runs in the bottom of the second, two in the third and two more in the fourth.

The Pirates were quiet until the top of the sixth inning, when they added another three runs to the scoreboard.

Clay Ross took first base on catcher interference and was followed by hits from Ty Lovato and Will Laverty, who brought around Ross. The additional two runs came at the hands of errors by Grand County.

“It was kind of a shame because we scored three runs in the top of the sixth and maybe could have had a couple more,” Close said.

In the game, Pagosa recorded five hits, while giving up only four and walking six. The Pirates erred eight times on the day.

Saturday saw twice the action for the Pirates in the form of a doubleheader.

Game one of the doubleheader was against Delta, Utah, which Close said is regarded as a powerhouse team in Utah.

The Pirate squad was unable to catch Delta from the beginning, allowing four runs in the first inning and another four runs in the second inning.

Pagosa’s only run came around when Close doubled to the left field fence was hit in on a double by DeVooght in the fourth inning.

The Pirates tallied six hits on the day, with two by Close and two by Will Laverty.

On the pitching end, Close and Lovato combined allowed six walks and seven hits, including two home runs. The Pirates committed five errors in the game.

The Pirates then took on Nucla, the number one-seeded 2A team, in their final game of the weekend, losing 13-11.

Taking a 2-1 score into the bottom of the third inning, Nucla scored 10 runs, leaving the Pirates with the challenge of catching up.

Close said two critical errors in the inning added to Nucla’s run total, while the team gave up a few walks and a “lot of hits.”

Taking the score to heart, the Pirates struck offensively in the next four innings.

In the fourth, Tyson Ross and Clay Ross walked, followed by Lee Clark laying down a sacrifice bunt. A ground out by Sean Blanchard allowed one run to come around.

In the fifth, Close doubled, DeVooght singled and Mason Laverty singled, scoring Close. Tyson Ross then doubled, scoring DeVooght. Tyson Ross was able to record the third run in the inning by scoring on an error by Nucla’s third baseman.

In the sixth, a double by Blanchard was followed by a single from DeVooght, scoring Blanchard.

In the seventh, the Pirates tried to complete their comeback, starting with a triple from Tyson Ross and a walk to Lovato. Blanchard followed up with a single, while Close was hit by a pitch and DeVooght and Mason Laverty followed Blanchard’s lead, with each knocking singles. In the end, the Pirates brought around four runs in the inning.

Unfortunately, Pagosa’s surge fell short of Nucla, with a final score of 13-11.

In the game, the Pirates tallied 11 runs on 15 hits, while committing only two errors. DeVooght recorded five hits in the game, while Mason Laverty had four. Tyson Ross, Close and Blanchard each had two hits.

“I think we finally have passed over that bridge and we’ll start swinging the bat,” Close said, adding that he sees potential in Tyson and Clay Ross to be power hitters for the team.

Nucla recorded 13 runs on 10 hits and five walks handed to them by Pirate pitching.

At bat

The Pirates have 26 hits on the season, with over half of those coming in Saturday’s final game and at the hands of only five players.

Eleven of those runs came in the last three innings of the Nucla game, when the Pirates scored eight runs in three innings.

On the mound

Close said he was pleased with the improvement in the pitching over last weekend’s tournament, citing Lovato’s improvement as a highlight.

He added that he will continue using a platoon style of play for the pitchers through the first half of the season to prepare the team members for conference play in the second half and in order to prevent injury to any one pitcher by slowly building their pitch counts and stamina on the mound.

“I like to win as much as everyone else, but I’m not going to risk a pitcher by pitching him one extra inning,” Close said.

On deck

Beginning today, the Pirates have four games in three days before spring break’s hiatus.

This afternoon’s action will take place in Ignacio at 4 p.m.

This weekend, the Pirates head to the La Junta tournament for three more games before taking a break from action until April 7.

randi@pagosasun.com

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