The third-ranked McLennan Highlanders fell to the the New Mexico Military Broncos 5-4 this afternoon in the opening round of the Region V Tournament at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
Sophomore Reece Calvert took the loss on the mound for the Highlanders.
New Mexico Military began the scoring with two runs in the top of the first inning as Alex Howard was hit by the the pitch and scored on the Justin Felix home run.
McLennan got on the board with one run in the bottom of the first as Tucker Johnson singled, moved to second on a balk and scored on a single by Dimas Ojeda.
The Broncos added a run in the top of the fourth. Winston Welch reached first safely on an error and Justin Felix singled. Chris Suarez followed with a single to score Welch.
Two more Broncos runs score in the fifth as Marion McLean was hit by the pitch and scored on Welch's home run.
The Highlanders began to chip away at the lead, scoring one run in the bottom of the fifth as James Rudkin doubled and scored on a single by Chris Roller.
Cory Voss' solo home run for the Highlanders in the sixth cut the lead to two.
Ojeda's home run in the bottom of the ninth rounded out the scoring for McLennan.
"This is obviously not how we wanted to start the tournament off. You have to give New Mexico Military credit. Their starting pitcher, Ortiz, threw great and their closer, Suarez, was very good as well. The difference in the ballgame really is their guys hit two home runs that were two-run shots and our guys hit two home runs that were solo shots. It was just one of those ball games that we never really could get in a rhythm. We were playing from behind from the first inning on. I give our guys credit, we continued to battle but it's a challenging deal," said head coach Mitch Thompson.
"That is the fifth time in the last three years that the N0. 4 seed has beat the No. 1 seed in this tournament, so anything can happen. It's not like it is something that hasn't happened before and our guys are aware of that."
"What we have to do now is get refocused and go win one game at a time, six times. It is something that our guys are capable of and something I just challenged them with. I'll be looking to see just how well we can play here the next 3-4 days. It's going to take a complete team effort; it's going to take every pitcher on our staff; it's going to take our offense to click and be good, but our guys have done that all year and I expect that we will come out tomorrow and start that process. We are going to win one game at a time, six times. That's the idea."
The Highlanders will face New Mexico Junior College in an elimination game at 10 a.m. Saturday.
New Mexico Military 5, McLennan 4
New Mexico Military 200 120 000 – 5 5 1
McLennan 100 011 001 – 4 10 1
Carlos Ortiz, Chris Suarez (7) and Justin Felix. Reece Calvert, Dustin Jourdan (7) and Cory Voss. WP: Ortiz; LP: Calvert; SV: Suarez. Leading hitters – New Mexico Military: Winston Welch (1-4, HR, 2 RBI), Justin Felix (2-4, HR, 2 RBI) and Chris Suarez (1-3, RBI); McLennan: Joe Breaux (1-4, 2B), Dimas Ojeda (2-5, HR, 2 RBI), Cory Voss (1-4, HR, RBI), James Rudkin (2-3, 2B) and Chris Roller (2-4, RBI); Record: McLennan 45-11 (25-7).