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NMJC holds off Rough Riders on diamond

By Dave Kavanaugh

New Mexico Junior College continued its quest for its league baseball title at the expense of Luna over the weekend, turning the visiting Rough Riders away in a four-game series held in Hobbs.

The Thunderbirds kept their win streak active in going to 22-9 overall, two games out of the lead. The Rough Riders fell to 3-30.

Game scores were 15-2 and 11-1 on Friday, 3-1 and 17-7 on Saturday.

Luna led 2-0 early on in game one, only to watch the T-Birds answer with a five-run first and a six-run second. Dustin Sipe (freshman, Aztec, N.M.) crunched a two-run homer for that early lead, and Seth Olguin later doubled.

In game two, Ben Smith scored in the top of the third off Sam Creed’s single to cut the T-Bird lead to 3-1. Then NMJC retaliated with a five-run fourth en route to a six-inning win.

Olguin and Spencer Heyden had doubles for Luna, which was held to five total hits by T-Bird ace Jairo Vasquez (3-1).

Luna's Dustin Sipe

Game three nearly saw the Rough Riders break through, thanks to solid pitching and defense. Olguin went five and one-third innings and held NMJC to three runs – one earned – on eight hits and three walks. And closer Dylan Begay didn’t allow a baserunner in getting two outs.

But the T-Birds were up to the task. Brayan Garcia Diaz yielded six walks but allowed just one hit and one run with two strikeouts in four and two-thirds innings before turning the ball over to Mark Barillas, who fanned two and allowed just one hit in recording a save. The Birds also turned three double plays in limiting Luna to three team hits. Creed did steal two bases.

Luna stayed close and then rallied to take a 7-6 lead midway through the sixth in the series finale. Then the T-Birds stole the show with an 11-run outburst in the bottom of the inning.

Louis Reyna hit 2 of 3, and Nick Rodriguez drove in two runs to lead the Riders.

Luna is slated to host Frank Phillips College on Friday and Saturday at Fort Marcy Park in Santa Fe.