EPCC’s Tejanos finished their pre-season with three losses and a win over the weekend at home against Cochise College.
The home field energetic atmosphere was not enough to power the Tejanas over the weekend as they went 1-3 against Colby Community College. The Tejanas lost 10-6 and 7-4 on Friday and split Saturday’s doubleheader, losing 11-7 and in a high scoring game won 14-13.
Photo by Adrian Ordoñez
The scores against Cochise were 11-5 and 8-1 on Friday; and 2-5 and 8-1 on Saturday.
While the Tejanos were able to control large portions of their games against Cochise over the two days, it was “big innings” that came to be the Tejanos’ undoing, according to head coach Gabriel Saucedo.
“One of the things I talk to the guys about all the time is we have to eliminate the big inning, and the big inning is any time you score more than three runs in one inning,” Saucedo explained.
While the Tejanos were able to frustrate Cochise’s batters, not allowing a single run for five innings to keep Cochise only four runs away, they allowed Cochise to kill the game in the ninth inning with four runs.
“So we’ve got to eliminate that big inning, because those four runs really killed us, it’s an insurmountable amount of runs to get in one inning,” Saucedo said.
“Otherwise, we were down four to one and you sit there and go ‘Hey we got three runs to tie this thing and we got a chance.’ If we can eliminate that one inning, then we’ve got ourselves a chance to win so it’s just a matter of them recognizing it and stopping it."
While the games proved to be defensive standoffs at times, the Tejanos had moments with runners on base that looked like potential game changers but the Tejanos’ hitting was not their best.
Outfielder Andrew Perez explained he felt the team could have done better with runners on base but feels mental preparation will help see EPCC through.
“We’re looking forward to get some rest because it’s been tough these past three weeks and I think it’s going to be a good thing for the pitchers too,” Perez said.
At the top of the fifth with runners on first and third base, a line drive towards left field was caught and thrown to catcher Jesus Mendoza who then threw to his third baseman for a double play to end a long inning.
“That one is definitely one for the history books in anyone’s memory because that can ultimately change the momentum of a game. In this case, our situation didn’t quite do that for us but it did put a spark in there,” Saucedo said.
For Saucedo, the key factor in the Tejanos’ win on the weekend was being able to take key risks and come out on the winning end.
“The third game, [Cochise] went out and swung the bat, they put the ball in play and they made some mistakes and we ended up capitalizing on them. [On Friday] we had our situation where guys are looking at the third strike and we’ve got to swing the bat.”
Coach Saucedo and his players will be looking forward to taking advantage of a three-week break before they begin their conference season.
Having played 20 games already, some of the Tejanos are exhausted and need a break to replenish their energy for the season.
According to Saucedo, they’re going to need it.
“Once we hit it, once we play it’s going to be every weekend, there’s no rest and we have a luxury this year of being able to give these guys that break,” Saucedo said.
“So what I’m looking forward to is giving these guys a break and getting them a chance to recover. We’re not going to stop in the weight room, we’re going to continue in the weight room but we’re definitely going to give them some time off to let them recover, recoup and get ready for that conference schedule.”
With most of the squad, particularly the freshman, used to playing 25 to 30 games a season with playoffs, a loss of mental focus is an inevitable casualty over time.
Being able to get three weeks to assess what’s ahead of them is going to be a relief for most players.
“Obviously we want to get mentally ready, it’s been a tough grind these last 20 games, playing on one or two days’ rest,” infielder Daniel Garcia said.
“So these three weeks we’re going to be able to get our feet under us. We’re going to be physically ready and hopefully mentally ready and we’ll be focused when the time comes.”
The EPCC Tejanos’ next game will be held on March 10 at Roswell, New Mexico against New Mexico Military Institute.