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TBirds Sweep Westerners Again

TBirds Sweep Westerners Again photo 3/22/2016 2:19:41 p.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

[Story courtesy Jason Farmer - Hobbs News Sun - March 21, 2016]

The New Mexico Junior College baseball team picked up where it left off Friday as the Thunderbirds completed the four game sweep of Western Texas. NMJC took the first two games of the series in Snyder on Friday and then won the final two games on Saturday at Ray Birmingham Thunderbird Field. The Thunderbirds won the first game 11-1 in six innings Saturday and then took the second game 14-4 in five innings.

For three innings, neither offense made any serious noise, but things changed in the bottom fourth.

“Their pitcher was throwing a lot of off-speed today,” NMJC’s Jeff Deimling said. “We had to adjust on it more. He did well. He was locating well the first three innings. We had to make a different approach and we did. It ended up pretty well for us in the end.”

With one out, Travon Benton sent a pitch from Western Texas’ Seth Hubert over the right field fence, giving NMJC a 1-0 lead. The homer was Benton’s second in as many games and his team-leading 10th of the season.

Deimling, the next batter, singled and then scored on Zac Sanders two-run blast. Sanders’ homer was his eighth of the season. Jesse Becton followed with a ground rule double and scored on Daniel Herrera’s single. Herrera stole second and moved to third on a single before scoring on a sacrifice fly from Angel De Jesus, giving the Thunderbirds a 5-0 lead after four.

“I feel like, with this team, once we get on a role, it just keeps going,” Deimling said. “We are getting quality at bats, seeing a lot of pitches and driving the baseball around the yard.”

Western Texas scored is lone run in the top of the fifth when No. 9 batter Mitchell Morris doubled. Morris moved to third on a ground out and scored on a single.

NMJC got the run back and added another in the bottom of the fifth. The Thunderbirds got both runs with just two singles and three free passes.

The Thunderbirds secured the win in the bottom of the sixth. De Jesus singled and stole second. Luis Pintor walked and Larry Leitha doubled in De Jesus, putting NMJC up 8-1. Western Texas brought in a new pitcher, Owen Bessette who got Benton to ground out. Pintor was able to score on the play though. The next batter Bessette faced was his last. Deimling launched a two-run homer over the fence to end the game.

“I was seeing the ball well today,” Deimling said. “It felt good.”

NMJC coach Jake McCarter spoke highly of Deimling, Sanders, and Benton, the heart of his lineup.

“When those three guys, in the middle of our lineup, are seeing the ball well, it feels good,” McCarter said. “It is fun to watch, most definitely.”

Every Thunderbird batter reached base safely at least once and all but Matt Martin scored. Deimling led the way, going 3-for-4, falling a triple shy of the cycle. Deimling drove in three and stole a base for the Thunderbirds. Sanders went 1-for-2 with two runs batted in, a walk, and a run scored while Leitha was 2-for3 with an RBI, two runs, and a walk.

On the mound, Alex Pinedo got the win for NMJC. Pinedo threw 103 pitches over his six innings of work while striking out 10.

“Alex Pinedo did a (heck) of a job, just keeping us right there, keeping the momentum, and not letting it shift.” McCarter said. “The thing I love about Alex Pinedo is, no matter what the score is, he goes out and expects like it is a 0-0 game. He loves the ball in his hand and has a tremendous amount of confidence in his stuff. It is fun to watch as a coach.”

While Pinedo got the complete game victory, it wasn’t an easy win. He scattered eight hits and two walks over his six innings. Three times the Westerners had runners on third, including the top of the sixth with no outs. In the sixth, Pinedo got a comebacker and after looking the runner on third back to the base, threw to first for the first out. The Thunderbirds hurler then struck out the next two batters to get out of the jam unscathed.

“One thing about Alex Pinedo, is he is going to compete,” McCarter said. “He is going to flat out compete. Sometimes, what his weakness is, is that he tends to over compete. So what I went out there and told him was stay within yourself, trust yourself and lets keep the game between you and (catcher) Danny (Herrera) and we will collect outs one out at a time. … For him to get out of it with no runs is, it just shows what kind of competitor that he is.”

In the final game of the series, NMJC jumped out to an early lead as the Thunderbirds scored nine times in the bottom of the second. Western Texas scored three runs in the top of the fourth, but NMJC came right back with four runs in the bottom of the frame. Each team scored one run in the fifth as NMJC beat the Westerners 14-4 in five innings.

The Thunderbirds had 10 hits and drew eight walks in the game. Sanders was 3-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and three runs batted in. Deimling was 2-for-2 with a double, three runs scored while Becton was 1-for-2 with a triple, three runs and two runs batted in. De Jesus also drove in two for NMJC. Sanders, Becton, and Deimling all stole a base as did Leitha. Brian Archibald got the win for the Thunderbirds. Archibald pitched all five innings for NMJC, allowing four hits and four runs, all earned. The Thunderbirds pitcher walked two and struck out four while allowing one home run.

NMJC swept the season series with Western Texas, winning all four games. The Thunderbirds improve to 16-10 on the season and will be back on their home diamond Friday when El Paso Community College comes to town.

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