By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
TEXICO — A brisk south breeze blowing toward left field made a difference in the first inning, and the Elida Tigers could not recover.
Casey Crist and Jesse Walthers hit towering two-run homers in the opening frame while freshman Seth Bailey went 4-for-4 at the plate and pitched six solid innings in his first varsity mount start to lift Texico to a 10-3 victory in the Wolverines’ second game in their new baseball facility, located just west of town along U.S. 60.
Having seen what his teammates had done, Bailey figured he’d better keep the ball down and hit his spots.
In fact, he said the wind helped him.
“I was a little nervous, but I was happy to get the win,” said Bailey, who walked three, struck out eight and allowed six hits. “With the wind blowing so hard, my curveball was breaking pretty good.”
The result evened the score between the teams this season. The Wolverines (3-6) lost an 8-4 decision to Elida in early March in the seventh-place game of a tournament at Dexter, only days after both schools were coming off state tournament semifinal appearances in basketball.
“They’re a good team,” Elida coach Jimmy Dale Ward said of Texico. “We just didn’t hit the ball today. You’ve got to hit it before they’ll make a mistake.”
Bailey singled to open the Texico first before Crist launched an 0-1 pitch from Elida junior Wesley Gilmore over the barrier in left-center. Gilmore walked Theo Marez on four pitches, and Walthers drilled a 1-0 offering out of the park.
“That was nice early,” said Texico coach Richard Luscombe, whose team has won three of four after an 0-5 start. “We’ve been trying to concentrate on our hitting. We hit everything hard the other night at Portales (in a 5-4 loss to the Rams’ junior varsity), but we hit right at them.
“Seth did a great job of getting us ground balls and pop-ups. When he has command of the strike zone, he can be real effective.”
The Tigers (6-5) tried to sneak back, but came up empty on second-and-third situations with two out in the fifth and sixth.
“We had our chances; we just couldn’t capitalize,” Ward said. “Seth Bailey threw a good game, though.”
Seven players hit safely for the Wolverines. First baseman Brett Anderson went 3-for-4 and scored twice, including coming in all the way from first on a long two-out single to right-center by Matt Marez in the third.
Six of Texico’s hits went for extra bases.
“The guys hit great,” Bailey said. “It was nice to have a four-run lead in the first inning.”
Left fielder Trenton Chenault led the Tigers at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double and two stolen bases.