In spite of the chill air, it was a pleasure to be at the Questa at Peñasco baseball game Tuesday (April 2). The joy came not from one particular play--though there were many exciting ones--but from the steady enjoyment of the players, coaches and fans. In many ways, it was community baseball at its finest.
An example: In the bottom of the second inning, Peñasco's Donivan Aguilar, an eighth-grader and thus smaller than most players, was at bat. He hit a short ball; it was fielded by the pitcher, who threw it to first. Standard procedure. The first baseman caught the ball and tagged the bag - but he also stood in the baseline. Another player might have stopped short or veered around, but Aguilar, No. 2, knew it was his right to have a clear line across the base, and he charged the first baseman, to the delight of players and coaches on both sides.
His play earned him a "Good job, No. 2! Way to hang in there!" from the Questa assistant coach Mike Parham.
The inning ended 6-5 Peñasco.
Questa followed up with a beautifully played inning. Offensively they claimed a 13-7 lead by carefully watching pitches and connecting with the ones that were good. Questa's pitcher Matt Rael hit a triple that brought in two runners followed by an RBI from the next batter, Josiah Chavez. Defensively, they got outs on three consecutive batters.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, they sent Peñasco back to the field in four pitches.
In the fifth, Questa's first baseman Zachary Waltz had an in-bounds home run driven hard and low just inside the first baseline. This seemed to wake something in the Panthers, whose dugout had begun to feel a little glum.
With one out already, the Panthers made their first double play of the season: a drive caught by third baseman David Lucero and sent to first in time to tag the batter out and close the inning.
The momentum brought them a nine-run inning. In the bottom of the fifth, the Peñasco hitters were on fire. Danny Esquibel made it home from second base to make it 8-14. An RBI from 5 put another run on the board with a single, 9-14. A balk put him on second; he stole third and made it home on the next hit, 10-14.
The solid offense continued and before long Peñasco was within two runs. A double for Jerome Lopez made it 13-14 and a well-hit triple from Zach Gonzales gave the Panthers a 15-14 lead. A double from Juan Arrellano extended the lead to 16-14 at the end of the inning.
The Panthers scored five more in the bottom of the sixth, giving a final score of 21-14.
The first game of the doubleheader filled more than three hours, so the end of the second game will have to be rescheduled due to darkness.
Fortune visited each team during the game. They each had the thrills of a big lead and of the chase. Either could have won and eventually one of them did. Perhaps most importantly, the game demonstrated the best of the competitive spirit between neighbors, clearly fostered by the coaching staffs of both teams: fierce but warm.