Coming home was just what the Moriarty baseball team needed. After struggling for nearly a month on the road, the Pintos swept the Española Valley Sundevils in a doubleheader at home on April 2, grabbing a mercy-rule victory in the first game and then outpacing the visitors in the second game.

“It felt good having a home game, finally,” said Moriarty pitcher Bryce Walker, who pitched all five innings in the 12-1 mercy rule-shortened opener. “This is back-to-back complete games for me, so I’m feeling amazing right now.”

Walker gave up one run on four hits.

The Pintos won the second game 9-4.

Since early March, the Pintos (4-12, 2-1) had played 10 consecutive away games, losing nine of them.

“We’ve been traveling a ton, we were in Roswell, and then Artesia, and then we went to Portales, Silver City, and while the record’s not great, we were playing some really good teams,” Moriarty head coach Denny Young said. “We’ve been to almost every corner of the state, so it’s nice to be home and have a good day.”

Walker helped his cause in the first game, driving in a pair of runs in the first inning with a two-RBI base hit.

Moriarty added another run in the second when Jose Bailey’s RBI single drove in Jace McCutcheon.

The Pintos broke the game open with six runs in the third inning, bolstered by Amare Gonzales’ RBI base hit followed by a pair of bases-loaded walks. Moriarty added three more runs in the fourth. Española scored its only run in the top of the fifth.

“We’ve been away and now that we come home, we shut them down,” Walker said. “Throwing a complete game—almost a no-no—it raises my confidence a lot.”

In the second game, Española took a brief lead with a run in the top of the first inning.

Moriarty senior Micah Rimer led off the home half of the inning with a stand-up double that started a three-run spurt.

Española trimmed the margin to 3-2 with a run in the top of the third inning but the Pintos’ bats responded in the bottom of the frame. Gonzales led off with a single and stole second. Walker drove him in with a bloop that plopped into shallow left field. Gonzales raced home and dove face first into the plate in a cloud of Moriarty dust. Four batters later, McCutcheon uncorked a two-out two-RBI double to put the Pintos up 6-2.

Amare Gonzales diving into home. Photo by Ger Demarest.

“It’s what the team needed,” McCutcheon said about his hit. “We needed to get our runs up, get some momentum going with the bats, so it was really good for the team. I just remember hitting the ball and running.”

Española added another run in the top of the fifth, but once again the Pintos responded in the bottom of the inning with three runs. With the bases loaded, Rimer ripped a two-RBI base hit.

“I got a fastball, middle-away, belt-high, and I just took it to right field and we scored two runs,” Rimer said.

A balk called on Española’s pitcher brought in Weston Cooley to give Moriarty a 9-3 lead.

The Sundevils scored their final run in the top of the seventh.

Young said the Pintos were more disciplined at the plate than they have been all year and he was pleased that they closed the gap each time Española scored.

“You know, every time they put a little bit out there, we’d respond a little bit and we had not been doing that,” he said, adding, “I felt like our guys were tuned in and playing baseball today and I hadn’t seen that all year to be quite honest, and that’s good to see right now.”

Rimer said, “I think this gives us a lot of energy and momentum going into the next few district games.”

Moriarty’s homestand continued April 6 when the Pintos hosted district rival Los Alamos.