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Pueblo Azteca baseball downs Cheyenne to open Andenucio Memorial Tournament

Pueblo Azteca shortstop Kyle Jameson tags out a Cheyenne runner on the first day of the Andenucio Tournament on Thursday at Hobbs Field [CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/STEPHEN SWOFFORD]


Pueblo Azteca baseball downs Cheyenne to open Andenucio Memorial Tournament

BY AUSTIN WHITE | The Pueblo Chieftain | JUN 14, 2019

Watching Pueblo West High School win the Class 4A state baseball title, it was clear that the speed they possessed made a difference.

Now enter in the Pueblo Azteca 18U team with many other speedsters around the Steel City and you get something that might resemble a track team more than a ball club.

No matter the look, the Azteca’s speed was on display late Thursday night in the opening day of the Tony Andenucio Memorial Tournament.

They took down the defending champions in Cheyenne Post-6 11-3 in a six inning, mercy-rule victory.

“It makes it fun baseball,” Azteca coach Mario Mattivi said about his team’s speed. “They’re smart on the base paths and they pick each other up. If one guy strikes out, the next guy gets a hit and that’s exactly what happened in the fourth, fifth and sixth.”

Things looked bleak for the Azteca after the first three innings since they had no hits and were trailing 3-0.

But in the span of 11 pitches, Pueblo tied the game at three.

Jayden Cordova started the fourth by reaching on a dropped third strike and his Pueblo West teammate in Kyle Jameson knocked the squad’s first hit with a line drive to left.

One pitch later, the Class 4A player of the year in Barth drove a triple to the right field wall, scoring his two Cyclone teammates.

“We were down the whole game and (Cheyenne pitcher RJ Prince) was throwing them in the dirt and we were swinging at them,” Barth said. “I just think that was a big hit to get us to go.”

Central’s Adam Muniz sent a deep fly ball to right to score Barth and help set the team up for an even better fifth inning.

Muniz hit another sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and no outs to start the fifth. His Central teammate in Marcus Duran walked and then South’s Seth Mora singled to center to score two more and set the tone for the sixth inning where a double by Duran secured the 11-3, mercy-rule win.

“This is a special group,” Mattivi said. “When I had my roster made in August from the tryout and I knew what I was getting, I knew this was a special group. Now we have to move past this one and now we have Burkburnett.”

Not to be lost in the offensive shuffle was Azteca starting pitcher Nate Denniston. He threw 106 pitches over four and 2/3 innings of work, giving up only three runs, one earned, on four hits.

Denniston also collected 10 strikeouts compared to six walks and handed the ball to La Junta’s Ty Addington to close out the game. Addington pitched 1 and 1/3 innings and gave up no hits and picked up four Ks.

“The umpire had a tight zone and Nate threw well for that,” Barth said. “There was a ball or two he could have got in, but he went back there and got them out again.”

A year ago, Azteca, formerly known as Loaf ’N Jug, squared off with Cheyenne in the championship game, the first title game appearance for a Pueblo team since 2001.

The Sixers emerged victorious and kept Pueblo off the ’Nuch championship list once more, a title that the Steel City hasn’t won since 1984.

Despite both rosters looking quite a bit different from last year, getting the win over a solid team in Cheyenne is a great confidence boost to Azteca as they hope to be the squad to end the 34-year drought.

“It feels awesome because we came out to play and we knew they beat (Loaf ’N Jug) last year,” Barth said. “It’s just good to know we can beat them so if we seem them Sunday, we know we have a shot against them.”

Pueblo will play two games today starting at 5 p.m. against Burkburnett and then 7:30 p.m. against Las Vegas, both games on Hobbs Field.

Chieftain sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at awhite@chieftain.com or on Twitter @ajwrules44.

Azteca-Cheyenne Boxscore

Pueblo 11, Cheyenne 3

CHY 201 000 -- 1 9 0

PUE 000 344 -- 11 9 1

Prince, Macleary, Nyberg and Pedroza. Denniston, Addington and Duran. WP: Addington. LP: Macleary.

2B: CHY: Johnson. PUE: DeClusin, J. Cordova. 3B: Barth, J. Cordova.

-- Compiled by Austin White

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