ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Every time Ethan Coombes stepped to the plate Friday in the New Mexico Roswell’s opener Friday in the Southwest Regional Little League Juniors baseball, he had plenty of teammates on the bases to keep him company.
And he wasted little time in chasing them home at New Mexico’s Lobo Field.
Batting eighth in the lineup, all Coombes did was homer with five RBIs, sparking Roswell to an 18-2, five-inning, mercy-rule win over Oklahoma’s Tulsa National. Roswell will face Texas East today at 3 p.m. at Lobo Field.
His hustling, 3-run, inside-the-park homer in the second erased a 2-0 deficit.
“He had a great game,” Roswell manager Chris Price said. “He played out of his mind.”
It quickly turned the game in Roswell’s favor.
“It was huge,” Price said. “They came out and punched us right in the mouth. It was the first time we got knocked down. A lot of baseball teams run on emotion, and hitting is contagious and that just got us over the hump. The rest of the guys just got on his back and went with him.”
Coombes said he was just looking for a good pitch to hit “and he put it right in my happy zone.”
As the ball rolled toward the corner in the cavernous outfield, Coombes said he was thinking of circling the bases.
“I saw coach waving me he home,” he said, making it without a slide.
Even a half-hour, lightning-caused delay before Oklahoma came back up did little to curb Roswell’s momentum.
Actually, the team stayed loose through the break in the clubhouse, playing a game of two-ball in which players throw two balls to teammates at the same time, trying to catch both, Coombes said.
Oklahoma, however, just sat around waiting to retake the field, he said.
But when the game resumed, Roswell began piling it on thereafter. The game fell apart for Oklahoma in the fourth inning, when six consecutive Roswell hitters reached base via either a walk or by being hit in what turned out to be a 7-run inning.
And the bottom portion of the lineup continued to do the damage behind Ty Jordan, Nick Palomino and his replacement, Matthew Shanor, all joining in the fun. Between them, the four players went 7-for-8 with six RBIs and nine runs. Catcher Logan Mathison also had a big game with three hits and four RBIs.
Jordan, who sees himself as one of the team’s spark plugs, said he was getting on teammates after the first inning.
“I was telling them that one inning doesn’t determine a ballgame,” he said. “I was trying to get everybody up. I said, ‘We’ve got to pick it up. We’ve got to get going.’ ”
And as soon as Coombes got his homer, everything changed for Roswell, he said.
“He got that hit and it picked everybody up,” Jordan said.
The team actually came into the game a little nervous, he said, and this win doesn’t really change anything.
“We can’t underestimate anybody,” Jordan said. “All the teams that are here are good. It’s going to be tough baseball.”