The Taos Blizzard faced off with the best team in the Pecos League so far, the Roswell Invaders, and the last-place team, the Ratón Osos, this last week and experienced success against both. The Blizzard split the four-game series with Roswell and then swept the Ratón Osos in a four-game series.
“Things are starting to come together,” Blizzard manager Matt Leahy said. “There’s not a more talented team in the league, it’s just a matter of putting it together at the same time.”
Before the Roswell series started, Taos’ leading hitter, Kyle Richardson, retired from pro ball to begin medical school at SUNY Upstate. Richardson was batting .408 and was leading the Pecos League with 19 stolen bases in 22 attempts when he retired.
The Blizzard, however, added Tyler Oldham and Matt Scruggs to their roster. Both of those players were released from their teams in higher pro leagues, but have stepped up as leaders for the Blizzard.
In Friday’s first game against Roswell (June 21), the Blizzard scored six first-inning runs on their way to an 11-6 victory. In that game, Oldham homered in the first inning and finished the game with four RBIs.
In the second game of the double header Friday, the two teams combined for 30 hits, including a pair of doubles by Taos’ John Apostolo. Roswell, however, finished on top, 16-8.
On Saturday, Louis Gonzales went four for four at the plate while Eric Berkowitz came in and threw three shut-out innings for Taos, helping the Blizzard beat Roswell a second time, 11-8. Berkowitz, Sean Gregory and Shayne Harold have all stepped up in relief for Taos. “Having those three guys at my disposal makes everyone else better,” Leahy said.
In the finale, Roswell’s Eric Lambes limited the Blizzard to one earned run and four hits while striking out seven in six innings on the mound, helping the Invaders split the series with a 14-2 victory.
The Blizzard beat Ratón 15-6 (June 19) and 15-7 (June 24). In the second game, Blair Springfield led off the game with a home run and then eight of the nine starters scored by the fourth inning to help Taos pull away. Scruggs also hit a home run.
Taos has had some key injuries lately, but Leahy said other guys have stepped up. “They’re being challenged and their best side is coming out,” Leahy said. “When (the injured players) come back, they’ll be instrumental in our success. Before you know it, we’ll slip right in there.”