By Jacob Chavarria
The Slaton Tiger baseball team looked toward this week as a chance to respond after going winless the week prior.
They did just that as they flipped those two losses into two wins this week.
The Tigers traveled to Roosevelt Tuesday (April 20) to take on the Eagles. They came out on top in a 9-4 victory to get their first win of the week.
In a slow start offensively for the Tigers, they found a way late to scrap some runs across. Coach Dilon Chancellor touched on the team’s performance Tuesday.
“We didn’t score a run till the fifth inning. Zephron goes out there and starts for us. He didn’t have his best stuff that day and that was just the reality of it,” he said. “Eli Perez comes behind him, he’s a contact guy, was able to get us some ground balls and pop flys and we were able to scrap some runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh and give us a chance to win. That’s who these guys are we turned it on a little bit late but at the end of the day whether it’s ugly we will take a win. Proud of those guys for scrapping offensively.”
Leading into Saturday’s (April 24) contest, the Tigers welcomed the Abernathy Antelopes on Senior Night.
They were seeking to give the Antelopes their second consecutive District loss, and were able to do just that as the Tigers won the low scoring contest 3-0, moving the Tigers to 5-4 in District play and sitting in third with one game left in District play.
To shutout the Antelopes, Matt Vigil once again performed well on the mound pitching a complete game with 13 strikeouts.
Vigil was dominant on the mound and with the help from his defense and his strikeouts, it proved to be enough to keep the Antelopes in check for seven innings.
In the second and third innings Vigil used his pitching to sit down the Lopes in order as he retired six Abernathy hitters on six strikeouts. During the fifth, the Antelopes were able to get two runners on with one out. But were once again denied as Vigil fanned two Antelopes to end the inning. In the seventh, after two quick strikeouts Matt gave up a single but responded like he had before and struck out his 13 and final Antelope on the night to secure the Tiger win.
“Man, that’s what we expect for a kid like that. That kid’s going to go out there and going to give you a chance to win. And that’s been the expectation for him all year. We knew it was a crash or burn game to give us a chance to get in the playoffs. And just like I tell these guys nothing is guaranteed and to go out there and give it everything you’ve got,” said Chancellor. “As far as Matt goes on the mound with 13 strikeouts and bowing his neck and giving us a chance. All of his guys believing in him, man that’s all you can ask for a senior like that especially on Senior Night.”
The three runs produced in the bottom of the fourth was just enough for the Tigers. After getting runners on the corners in the first, the Tigers were quiet offensively until the fourth. With one out, CJ Anzley doubled to left center to get in scoring position. After a strikeout and a walk from Sammy Ward the Tigers with two outs got another double this time from Nate Bentancourt to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
This wasn’t it for the Tigers as their third double of the inning. This one from Jacob Martinez drove in Slaton’s third and final run of the inning.
Those three runs proved to be strong enough for the Tiger offense especially with pitching and defense.
“That’s who we are, we’re a team that’s going to scrap, and people know that, and we know that, and we know what were capable of doing. Especially when we’ve got a guy on the mound that’s going to give us a chance. It kind of helps you offensively and those guys came into the dugout in the fourth and we said its time to go,” said Chancellor.
“Everybody believed and they bought into it and got Vigil some runs that way he was able to go in the fifth, sixth and seventh and just go out there and compete and do what he does to give us the best chance to win. And that is exactly what he did. Proud of the offense unit for scrapping those three runs out and just giving Matt the confidence up there on the mound to go out there and pitch with the lead.”
With their second win of the week and a big District win on Senior Night the Tigers then played their lone District game of the week Tuesday (April 27). The Tigers traveled to take on the Childress Bobcats.
Sitting alone in third place, the Tigers are looked to secure the third seed for the 3A playoffs with a win.
“I can guarantee you that and that’s just going to give us momentum and give us confidence going into the last one against Childress, and that one is not going to be easy either. So we’re going to go back to the drawing board on Monday and figure out what we’ve got to do to go get those guys at their place.”
“Man, these guys we’ve had our ups and downs and they’ll be the first to tell you. I told these guys after this game tonight, were going to do right by the game of baseball and were going to do right by this program,” said Chancellor.
“And that’s exactly what happened tonight on Senior Night. We did right by the program and right by the game of baseball and it paid us back. That’s the beautiful thing about this game, it reveals who you are, and it revealed who we were today, and we know who these guys are and we’re just going to continue to grind it out this season and see how the cards fall.”