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Loaf 'N Jug begins 2018 Season


Long prep seasons have led to late start for Pueblo's summer team


BY JEFF BERSCH | The Pueblo Chieftain | JUN 2, 2018

Summer baseball certainly has its challenges. Mario Mattivi is finding that out more than ever this season.

With the season set to begin Tuesday, Pueblo's Loaf 'N Jug legion team has yet to have its entire team available to practice together. Introductions to teammates prior to that first pitch may be necessary.

Loaf 'N Jug head coach Mario Mattivi congratulates players after their win against Las Vegas during the Tony Andenucio Memorial Tournament at the Runyon Sports Complex on June 17, 2017 in Pueblo, Colo.(CHIEFTAIN PHOTOS/FILE)Loaf 'N Jug head coach Mario Mattivi congratulates players after their win against Las Vegas during the Tony Andenucio Memorial Tournament at the Runyon Sports Complex on June 17, 2017 in Pueblo, Colo.(CHIEFTAIN PHOTOS/FILE)"Stressed," Mattivi said. "I'm not stressed because I don't think we have a good team. I like what we have. I'm excited. It's a new summer. It's just about trying to get it all to come together."

That's been the struggle as local and area high school teams made deep runs in the postseason.

Pueblo West reached the Class 4A state title game before losing to Valor Christian on Wednesday. Four players from the Cyclones will play for LNJ this season.

Another is coming from Lamar, which wrapped up its season Saturday with a loss in the Class 3A state tournament championship game.

When the team finally comes together, Loaf 'N Jug will play the season opener against a team from the Colorado Instructional League on Andenucio Field at Runyon Sports Complex.

Two days later, LNJ will play at the Cherry Creek Classic, facing the host team in the first game.

"We'll see where we're at," Mattivi said. "That was a good start for us last year and was a big reason we had success."

LNJ went 22-10 a year ago, the highlight certainly an amazing run in Pueblo at the Tony Andenucio Memorial Baseball Tournament.

The team went a perfect 5-0 in pool play and became the first Pueblo team to reach the 'Nuch semifinals under the current format. LNJ lost 9-8 to 4-Corners in the semifinals, nearly rallying from a 9-2 deficit.

No Pueblo team has won the 'Nuch since 1984 and none has reached the championship game since 2001.

"The 'Nuch is the pinnacle of the season, but it's so early," Mattivi said. "Nobody really cares how we do in Omaha or Topeka, but they care how a Pueblo team does in the 'Nuch.

"I'm hoping we can catch lightning in a bottle another time. Last season was indescribable. I told the kids last season, they'll remember that the rest of their lives."

Mattivi mentioned the pride in brought to Pueblo and the Pueblo baseball community to do what LNJ did a year ago in its home tournament.

The third-year coach certainly is proud of what's being built with his program. The team went 26-8 his first season.

Still, this year's team has only 17 players on it, including four from outside Pueblo.

Other kids, Mattivi said, have chosen to play in leagues in Colorado Springs or Denver.

"I just want Pueblo kids to play for Pueblo," he said. "I wish kids would stay here to play, but I get why they want to go up north to see what they offer. I can't tell kids what to do.

"We have a good program and it's a chance to represent Pueblo. You play against each other all (high school) season, but this is a chance to come together and do something special."

jbersch@cheiftain.com

Loaf 'N Jug at a Glance

Coach: Mario Mattivi, third season.

Last year: 22-10 overall.

Top returners:
Donavin Ada, INF
Brock Rodrigues, INF
Efren Perez, P/INF
Geno Cervi, P
Austin Martindale, P/INF

Other players to watch:
Zac Hanenberg, P/INF
Lucas Watson, INF
Jayden Cordova, OF
Ty Garcia, P
Kyle Jameson, INF
Zach Thomas, C
Ty Addington, P/INF
Trevor Pachecho, INF
Darion Martinez, P
Cole Medina, P
Seth Mora, OF/P
Adam Munoz, INF

Notes: Loaf 'N Jug has gone 48-18 the past two seasons ... The team consists of 17 players. Four are from Pueblo West, three from East , two from Central, South and County. There also are is one player each from Lamar, La Junta, Canon City and Raton, N.M. ... Martindale is on the team but the his avalilability with an injury remains uncertain.

LNJ 2018 Schedule

Information above is courtesy of
JEFF BERSCH | The Pueblo Chieftain |
JUN 2, 2018