CLOVIS – Once more, Ruidoso’s performance came down to one bad inning.
Unlike the night before against Roosevelt County, Ruidoso’s Intermediate All-Star season ended, July 8, with a 14-7 loss to West Mesa at the State tournament.
After scoring a run in the top of the sixth to get to within four runs, Ruidoso found the going rough in the bottom half, as West Mesa tacked on three more runs and were able to shut out their opponent to move on in the tournament and end things for Ruidoso.
“The runs they (West Mesa) got today, they earned,” said Ruidoso coach Cade Hall. “Errors weren’t the problem. But we just didn’t play as good as they did.”
What’s more frustrating about this loss is that Ruidoso led 6-4 after the top of the fifth, thanks to a three-run frame started with a Bracxton Hall single to right to score Hayden Casson.
Griffin Hooker later beat out an infield single to score Logan Good and take the lead, then Brantley Tercero walked with the bases loaded off West Mesa reliever Sam Baca-Garcia.
But this lead, like so many before it in this game, didn’t last.
West Mesa got a base hit to the fence to score two runs and tie it at 6-all, and Ruidoso starter Cooper Pritchett was relieved by Tercero in the bottom of the fifth.
By the end of the inning, West Mesa led 11-6, but that still wasn’t an insurmountable lead to overcome.
The real problem was that Ruidoso’s bats had gone quiet.
“The heat got to them, there’s all sorts of excuses,” coach Hall said. “But the bottom line is, our offense wasn’t there at all. The whole tournament we had no offense, and if you can’t hit the ball, you can’t score runs.”
It didn’t help that this game was delayed by bureaucratic red tape. West Mesa played their tournament-opening loss against East Mountain on Friday under protest due to a pair of players that were deemed ineligible.
East Mountain still won that game – they took on Roosevelt County on Saturday evening – but West Mesa still contended that if those ineligible players were on the field in the district tournament, then East Mountain shouldn’t have even been allowed to play at State.
After several phone calls to Little League headquarters in Williamsport, Penn., and a 1½ hour delay, the West Mesa-Ruidoso game finally got underway, but Hall said the waiting – and the delay the night before due to West Mesa’s protest over the ineligible players – took its toll.
“Having to wait like that, it’s hard to keep the kids focused,” Hall said. “The tournament was very unorganized.”
Whatever the reason for Ruidoso’s performance on Saturday, Hall was still proud to coach these kids, and sees in them a bright future for Ruidoso High Warrior baseball.
“They’re a great group of kids to coach, they have great personalities and a lot of heart,” Hall said. “They battled and when they get older, they’ll be a team to be reckoned with. I’ll be surprised if when they get to high school, they don’t win a State championship.”