It was Tigers versus Tigers in the consolation championship of the Jim Pierce Memorial Baseball Tournament at St. Michael's (Santa Fe) March 17. The Taos Tigers (4-6) were considered the visiting team, and the Raton Tigers (2-3) were designated the home team, although both were in their dark jerseys for the neutral affair at the 10th Annual event.
It was the final day of the three-day tournament that included a mix of class 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A teams who converged on St. Michael's baseball diamond.
Taos was trying to make it back to the winner's bracket - and the championship - where they had been the previous two years, but were beaten by the Santa Fe High School Demons, 8-3, in the opening round March 15.
The Tigers bounced back by defeating the Pojoaque Valley Elks in the consolation semi-finals, 12-2, March 16. This set up a showdown with Raton, who doubled-up the Española Sundevils, 14-7, in their consolation semifinal game.
Last year, in this same tournament, the Tigers plowed through the competition and challenged the Santa Fe High Demons in the finals, losing 4-3 in a squeaker to the Class 6A heavyweights. In 2016, Taos also made it to the title game and faced off against the host team, St. Michael's, but fell short by a final of 3-2.
Thus, in the three consecutive years the Tigers have attended this particular tournament, Taos has come away with two wins and one loss each time.
Earning the win against Raton, was eighth-grader Jalen Montaño who pitched a no-hitter in the 10-0 shutout. It was only the second outing for Montaño as a varsity starter, but the historic feat by the young hurler cemented his standing in the Tigers' current pitching rotation.
"This would be the first no-hitter I have ever coached," said Taos skipper, Miguel Quintana.
A no-hitter, also warmly regarded as a "no-no" is an extremely rare event that occurs when a pitcher prevents an opposing team from earning a hit during a game. A no-hitter is just a notch below a "perfect" game, in which a pitcher faces all potential batters during a game and allows none to reach first base.
In Montaño's case, he faced 17 batters and allowed two walks (base-on-balls). The youngster also recorded three strikeouts, including the final strikeout of the game to clinch the win.
With the victory, Taos moved to 4-6 overall. The Tigers' next game will be their home opener against the Capital Jaguars today (March 22). The non-conference double-header at Cardenas Field will start at 3 p.m. The game is free, but fans are encouraged to dress warm.