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  • The 'Nuch Tournament (photos courtesy The Pueblo Chieftain)
  • The 'Nuch Tournament (photos courtesy The Pueblo Chieftain)
  • The 'Nuch Tournament (photos courtesy The Pueblo Chieftain)
  • The 'Nuch Tournament (photos courtesy The Pueblo Chieftain)
  • The 'Nuch Tournament (photos courtesy The Pueblo Chieftain)
  • The 'Nuch Tournament (photos courtesy The Pueblo Chieftain)
  • The 'Nuch Tournament (photos courtesy The Pueblo Chieftain)
  • The 'Nuch Tournament (photos courtesy The Pueblo Chieftain)
  • The 'Nuch Tournament (photos courtesy The Pueblo Chieftain)

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After a doubleheader split, Azteca's hopes of reaching the 'Nuch semifinals still alive

BY CHRIS ABDELMALEK | The Pueblo Chieftain | JUN. 18, 2022

Day two of the ‘Nuch Tournament saw the home team the Pueblo Azteca host a doubleheader against Cheyenne Sixers and Paker Lightning.

The Azteca’s split their doubleheader Friday, losing their first matchup against the Sixers 12-1 F/6 and winning their second game against the Lighting 9-0 F/5.

With the split of Friday's games, the Azteca’s currently sit in the third seed in the American Division with a record of 2-1 on the tournament.

Game one, a forgettable one
Braxton Vail started the game for the Azteca's against the Sixers in the first game of a doubleheader on Jun 17, 2022, at the Tony Andenucio Tournament.
The first game of the doubleheader did not go quite as planned. Starting pitcher Braxton Vail had a rough outing in the first game and never seemed to really get control of his pitches.

After giving up an early run, the second and third inning saw Vail give up three more runs in each inning and eventually being chased from the game in the top of the third inning. Casillas came in and was able to settle the game down for a few innings. However, in the top of the sixth inning, the Sixers put up another couple of runs pushing the total to 9-1.

They would end up closing the game out at the bottom of the sixth inning to improve to 3-1 on the tournament and drop the Azteca's to a record of 1-1.

Mike Casillas makes contact on a pitch in the first inning of the Azteca's doubleheader on Jun 17, 2022, at the Tony Andenucio Tournament.
Coach Dylan Gavin spoke briefly about the loss after the end of both games.

“We didn't work ahead of batters, and that's the key," Gavin said. "We got behind the 8-ball in the first game.”

Game two, go blue
The second game of the day was much better than the first one. The Azteca’s were more in rhythm and starting pitcher Cade Bleeker was locked in from the very first pitch.

“You can see it from the first pitch,” Gavin said. “From warmups, he had a different edge to him today a competitive edge. He knew we needed to pick me up after that first game and he kind the lead the charge and put up a zero in that first inning.”

After a shutout in the top of the first inning, the Aztecas began to get the bats alive. They would score a run in the first inning off an RBI single from their catcher #33.

In the second they would start to really turn it up. Andrew Plutt knocked in two runs with a single to left field to put the home team up 3-0.

A quick third inning from both teams saw all six batters retired in order with the Lightning striking out twice in their half of the inning and the Azteca’s saw a popup to shallow left field, a walk and then caught stealing at second and a groundout to the shortstop in their half of the inning.

However, in the fourth inning, the Azteca’s found their rhythm again and Plutt once again came up to the plate, this time with the bases loaded. He was able to single up the middle getting two more RBIs and helped the team with a run scored as well making it a total of six runs in the inning. At 9-0, the bottom half of the inning became a closeout situation.

Bleeker who was still dealing on the mound gave up one hit in the inning and that was it. He finished the game with three hits allowed all while shutting out the Lightning in five innings.

Plutt was named player of the game for the second matchup and helped the Aztecas move into sole possession of third place in the American Division.

“Just coming off the first game after losing, I was just seeing the ball better and taking better approaches at the plate,” Plutt said.

 Coach Gavin spoke about how the team turned it around in the second game and how much they will need to keep that momentum going for the third day of games.

“We got two good teams ahead of us, we need to go out with the competitive edge that we had on the second day," Gavin said. "You've set yourself up for a situation where tomorrow means something, and that's all you can really ask for, is to give yourself a chance, and hopefully, we take advantage of that.”

Plutt also echoed his coach's statement after the game.

"Got to get two, that's the big thing," Plutt said. "It's going to take focus and effort and for us to work together and I think we can do that."

Rest of Day Two action
The rest of day two saw a lot of separation in the divisions and the standings.

Starting off with the defending champions the 4C Prime, the back-to-back champs saw their record improve to 4-0 in the ‘Nuch tournament so far with impressive wins over Rio Grande 6-3 and Victus Recruits 7-4. They sat alone at the top of the National Division standings with one game left for them to play on Saturday.

More:Back-to-back 'Nuch champs 4C Prime of New Mexico seek to join elite company

Those were the only games for both Rio Grande and Victus on the second day of action.

The Colorado Black Scout Team went an even 1-1 on day two of the tournament. They won their matchup against Grand Junction 4-3 but lost their game against Cherry Creek 3-1. The CBST were in a three-way tie for third place in the National Division.

Grand Junction and Cherry Creek played each other as well today and Junction came away with the victory in this one 10-5. This put Junction and Rio Grande in a tie with CBST for third place and kept Cherry Creek at the bottom of the standings for the National Division.

For the American Division, the Travelers had one game today against the Burkburnett team from Texas and it was a hitting expo on the field in this one with the final score favoring the team from Oklahoma 10-9. That put the Travelers in sole possession of first place in the American Division.

 The team from Cheyenne had two games on the second day of the ‘Nuch tournament and they saw their record improve with two wins over Greely Gojo early in the day and a thumping on the home team Pueblo Azteca later in the evening 12-1. They sit in second place in the division now.

The home Azteca’s are in third place with a record of 2-1 after splitting their doubleheader on day two with the loss to Cheyenne and a victory over Parker Lightning 9-0.

Parker Lightning now is in a tie for fourth place in the American Division with Burkburnett after the two faced off earlier in the day and Burkburnett took the victory 12-4.

Finally, Greeley Gojo is in last place after their loss to Cheyenne earlier in the day.

Christopher Abdelmalek is a sports reporter for the Pueblo Chieftain and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on Twitter @chowebacca

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