As Moriarty Middle School’s baseball team walked across the diamond following the Colts’ 2-1 and 7-5 doubleheader sweep March 30 over the visiting Estancia Middle School Bears, it was one of the last times the players would be exchanging the familiar post-game high-fives and fist bumps with each other.
And the players probably didn’t give much, if any, thought to it.
“A lot of these kids have been playing since they were four or five years old,” Colts head coach Andrew Fowner said.
And the fact that they’ve been playing against each other all that time is what matters.
Many of the players from both schools spent years participating in Moriarty’s youth baseball program—formerly the Moriarty Baseball League, or MBL, and now Estancia Valley Youth Athletics.
Moriarty kids generally play on teams that competed against the Estancia kids.
Now that these players are on middle school teams, they’ve continued competing against each other.
“You see them in Little League, and then you play them in middle school and it’s a little rivalry,” Fowner said.
But that will change when they attend high school because the Class 3A Estancia Bears don’t compete against the currently 5A—and soon to be Class 4A—Moriarty Pintos.
“They’ll never play each other again, a lot of them probably don’t realize that,” Fowner said. “It’s one of those things you wish you could always go back and do all over again.”
In the first game of last week’s twin bill, Tristan Hoy toed the rubber for the Colts and struck out nine Estancia batters.
Hoy played in Moriarty’s youth baseball program, most recently on the 13U Raptors.
“It’s a lot different now,” Hoy said. “Most of the kids are a lot bigger, but some are still really small.”
Nazareth “Naz” Astorga pitched in the opener for Estancia. He fanned three Colts and scored the Bears’ only run.
The score was tied 1-1 when A.J. Tapia’s RBI triple brought in Brian Sours for Moriarty’s game-winning run.
Sours pitched four innings in Moriarty’s 7-5 nightcap victory before being relieved by Jude Ipiotis in the fifth. Xavier Jaramillo was on the hill for the Bears before Jake Zamora took over.
Estancia’s first-year skipper J.R. Noblitt coached the MBL Estancia Bears for three years. His son Garrett played for the MBL Bears and is now on the middle school team.
“This is actually the first time I’ve lost to a Moriarty team,” Noblitt said, adding, “But this is only [the middle school Bears’] third game so I think our boys did pretty good.”
Fowner, who played baseball for the Pintos when he was in high school, was also MBL’s president for four years. He coached his son Branden on the MBL Diablos. Branden is now a member of the Colts.
“It’s always enjoyable to play Estancia,” Fowner said. “I remember seeing these guys when they were running around chasing dandelions, so it’s fun, seeing the familiar faces and seeing how the kids have grown up.”
The two teams will face each other one last time on April 27 on the Bears’ home diamond.
“I think it’s sad they won’t face each other again,” Noblitt acknowledged. “I’d like to see the rivalry keep going.”