By Eric Butler: Freedom Newspapers
CLOVIS — It wasn’t long into the game before the Clovis American players realized that Louis Ortiz was something different than they were used to.
Ortiz, a right-handed pitcher for Roosevelt County, struck out 16 batters to pitch his team to a 4-1 win in an 11-12-year-old District 3 game on Friday night at Dickenson Field, American’s home turf.
As if that weren’t enough, Ortiz also hit a titanic homer deep into the night for his team’s final run in the sixth inning.
“He has had a hard time with his control, but we had a coach work with him yesterday,” said Roosevelt County coach Donald Martinez of the hard-throwing Ortiz. “But he came through. What he did was pulled it out of his heart.”
The last 13 outs recorded by Ortiz were all via strikeouts. Clovis American’s Jacob Sierra interrupted the streak in the fourth with a single on an opposite-field bouncer down the first base line.
Like teammate Lathan Lieb, who pitched Roosevelt County to an opening victory over Clovis Zia, Ortiz ended with a one-hitter.
“We haven’t seen that kind of speed,” Clovis American coach Albert Marez, whose squad won its tournament opener on Wednesday at Quay County. “We’ve got some good, hard pitchers, but that’s just a little bit of a different speed than we’ve seen. It’s something good for our kids to see. It was just a little shock for them to try to adjust to the pitching.”
The only trouble spot for Ortiz helped Clovis American take a 1-0 lead — an advantage the host team held until the fourth.
In the second inning, after only a single Ortiz pitch, the game umpire approached the mound to address the motion of the Roosevelt County hurler.
Bothered, Ortiz walked Clovis American’s Justin Graham, hit Jacob Sierra with a pitch and then threw a wild pitch. Clovis’ Jordan Campbell, on a squeeze bunt, then scored Graham for the first run of the game.
“They were complaining about his wind-up at the start and that kind of threw him off,” Martinez said. “Once our coach got out there and explained what he needed to do, he got back into rhythm.”
In the fourth, Martinez came up with the big hit of the ballgame after Jesus Acosta, Lieb and J’Kobie Lee all singled to start the inning to tie the game 1-1. American pitcher Antonio Cordova then induced a couple of outs, and Martinez came up with runners still at second and third.
Catcher Raymond Martinez then singled to center field to score Lieb and Lee as Roosevelt went up 3-1.
“He’s a ‘base’ hitter — a contact hitter,” coach Martinez said. “That’s why we’ve got him in that spot, for contact. He did his job, a great job.”