San Juan softball, baseball teams out of the gate

by Rhett Sifford
Sports Editor
The San Juan High School softball team opened the 2022 spring season this past week with a tough 10-0 loss to the rival Grand County Red Devils in Moab on Tuesday, March 8.
Grand opened with a two-run first inning, then the teams battled for the next three innings without scoring a run before the Red Devils scored four in both the fifth and sixth innings to close out the win by 10-run rule.
San Juan was originally scheduled to meet the Kirtland, NM Broncos in their second game of the year a couple days later on Thursday, March 10 but the game was cancelled due to weather.
So the San Juan baseball team took the baton and blasted through their first five games of the season at the Cactus Classic in Mesquite, NV Thursday through Saturday, March 10-12.
The Broncos opened the three-day tournament with a 10-6 loss to Moapa Valley, NV on Thursday, but mustered two wins in their final four games of the event Friday and Saturday.
Despite the loss, a couple San Juan players had a strong outing against Moapa Valley. Junior Garett Young was a perfect 3-for-3 with two runs scored and freshman Talon Mendoza was 2-for-3 with an impressive three RBIs.
On Friday, March 10 the Broncos opened the day with a 12-7 loss to tourney host Virgin Valley, NV but bounced back for a 9-3 win over Wells, NV.
San Juan battled in the loss, but their late-innings rally fell short. Down 8-0 heading into the fourth they banged out four runs to cut the Bulldogs’ lead in half.
But Virgin Valley put four more runners across the plate in the bottom of the fourth to re-claim their eight-run lead. San Juan plated three in the top of the fifth to close out the game.
San Juan struggled at the plate in the loss, with three players getting a hit each: Jace Palmer, Garett Young, and Jerzy Nieves. Young knocked two Broncos across the plate in the contest.
San Juan picked up their first win of the young season against Wells later in the day, but unfortunately no statistics are available from that game as of the press deadline.
The Broncos opened play on Saturday, March 12 with a nice 5-3 win over Indian Springs. The Thunderbirds opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the first, but San Juan answered to tie in the top of the second.
The score remained 1-all until the top of the fourth when the Broncos plated three runners to take a 4-1 lead. They added another run in the top of the fifth, and though Indian Springs mustered a couple runs in the bottom half, San Juan was able to hold them off for the win.
Garett Young and Ian Johnson drove in two runs apiece for the Broncos and Jerzy Nieves added the other in the team’s second win of the year.
The win set San Juan up for a second meeting with the Virgin Valley Bulldogs to close out the tournament and the weekend. The Broncos battled hard, but came up short once again to the host squad.
San Juan drew first blood with a two-run top of the second, but Virgin Valley stormed back to score six in their at-bat. The Broncos rallied to tie in the top of the third, but again the Bulldogs answered immediately, plating four runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning.
The teams continued to go back and forth, but Virgin Valley began to truly gain distance in the fourth inning when they outscored San Juan 3-1.
The Broncos scored the only run in the fifth to pull to within 13-8, but the Bulldogs drove the dagger in with a four-run sixth inning. San Juan managed one run in the top of the seventh, but fell 17-9.
Stats are again largely unavailable for the final game of the weekend, but we do know that Jerzy Nieves led the way for the Broncos with two RBIs. Parker Snyder, Maddax Lee, and Collin Baker all drove in a run apiece.
Following the busy first week of spring sports, the baseball team is 2-3 and the softball team is 0-1. Both teams are set for a wild weekend in Moab this weekend with the Grand County Red Devils hosting a two-day round robin.
According to the schedule released by Grand County High School, the San Juan baseball team will play Shiprock on Friday, March 18 with matchups against Grand and Ben Lomond on Saturday.
The softball team is set for four games, all on Saturday, March 19. They’ll take on Grand, Enterprise, Hurricane, and Juab.
In addition to the copious action on the ball diamonds this week, the San Juan boys tennis team is scheduled to begin their season with matchups against South Sevier and Grand County in Moab on Thursday, March 17.

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