AP NEWS

Demon pitcher leads Santa Fe High over St. Michael’s, 3-2

March 23, 2019

The former St. Michael’s student came back to haunt his old school on the diamond Friday afternoon.

Once enrolled at St. Michael’s as a seventh-grader, Scott Laur made his way to Santa Fe High where he has been a fixture on the Demons’ baseball team the last couple of years. In his younger days, he was summer league teammates with a number of the current Horsemen, including the pitcher he came up big against when it mattered most in the semifinals of the Jim Pierce Memorial Tournament.

With the sun quickly setting behind the wall in right field and his team and the host Horsemen tied 2-2 in the top of the final inning, Laur calmly delivered the game-winning hit with a single.

It scored Manny Martinez with the decisive run in the Demons’ 3-2 victory. The hit came off Horsemen starter Thomas Erickson, a former teammate of his when he was in grade school.

“We were both pitchers on the same team and he’s always been really good,” Laur said. “He’s just gotten progressively better. I went up there looking at a fastball and was able to get around on it.”

The single completed a methodical three-run rally that began after the Horsemen took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. The Demons scored twice in the third before both pitchers, Erickson and Santa Fe High’s Kevin Crawford, settled in for the long haul.

Crawford was solid into the seventh. After recording the first out, he gave up a single to Jack Boggs to bring the top of the order to the plate.

“There’s the thought that as soon as you give up that first hit in a situation like that, it’s time to go get [the pitcher out],” Demons coach Ian Farris said. “He’s a fighter. He didn’t want to come out, and I like that about Kevin.”

Crawford (1-0) tried briefly to lobby his way into more time, but Farris had already motioned to Laur before he reached the mound.

“I’m always going to want to stay out there,” Crawford said. “I was able to get that far into the game and I did want to finish, but I think I was up around 96 or 98 pitches, something like that. If coach wants me out, he’ll take me out.”

A senior, Laur was less than awe-inspiring during his warmups. With Crawford taking over at second base, Laur failed to throw a single pitch near the heart of the strike zone and even bounced a pair of deliveries into the dirt and to the backstop.

“Nervous? Nah,” he said. “Yeah, OK, maybe I was thinking about it a little.”

The first batter he faced was the Horsemen’s most dangerous, freshman Derek Martinez. He coaxed Martinez to fly out to right, sending the pinch runner to third with two outs. He then got Erickson to pop up to short to end the game, stranding a pair of runners.

The win sends Santa Fe High (6-4) into Saturday’s championship game with a chance to defend its tournament title against Portales, a 6-3 winner over Bernalillo in the other semifinal.

“We’ve gotten the pitching we’ve needed so far and, yeah, I can’t be happier about that,” Farris said. “I think we’re one of those teams that plays good defense, hits the ball when we need to and doesn’t make the kind of mistakes that are going to cost us a lot, you know? That’s exactly the way we’ve played this entire tournament.”

The Demons face a stiff test against Portales, a state semifinalist a year ago in Class 4A and a team that has knocked off a pair of quality teams, Cobre and Bernalillo.

“Yeah, don’t know a lot about them, but I think we’ll be ready no matter what,” Laur said, downplaying the fact St. Michael’s has become the Demons’ home away from home the last couple of years during this tournament. “All we want is to be city champs, beat everyone in town. If that means coming here and beating them in this tournament on their field, that’s what we’ll do.”

TOURNAMENT NOTES

Field work: Friday’s consolation games were moved down Siringo Road to Santa Fe High’s baseball facility. Overnight rains drenched the infield at the Christian Brothers Athletic Complex, forming pools of water all around the infield dirt. The rain soaked through plastic sheeting that had been laid down across the infield Thursday night. High winds lifted part of the sheeting and allowed the water to soak through.

A school administrator said

33 bags of a clay/soil mixture were brought in. After several hours, the dirt was dry enough to host both semifinal games. The start times were delayed half an hour, but there were no issues with the conditions.

Web jems: Friday’s game saw a few outstanding defensive plays, including a pair of diving catches in right by St. Michael’s outfielder Jack Boggs and a great grab against the backstop by Santa Fe High catcher Adrian Ortega. He snared the ball as it came down parallel to the netting near the Horsemen dugout.

A third player, Horsemen left fielder Aiden Gantt, nearly had a diving catch to his right late in the game, but the umpires ruled he had trapped it.