FARMINGTON — The Rivercats kicked off the Connie Mack city tournament with a dominant 12-3 victory over the Aces.
Kody Russell pitched a complete game for the Piedra Vista High School developmental team, while driving in four runs at the plate, helping lead the Rivercats to victory Monday night at Ricketts Park.
"Everything was working tonight," said Russell, who allowed three runs on seven hits in seven innings of work. "I struggled a little to keep my curveball down, but my change-up was alright."
Russell struck out six Aces batters while walking three to earn the win.
The Rivercats hitters jumped on Aces starting pitcher Nick Romero right off the bat, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning.
Wyatt Weaver led off with a triple, and after a walk to Logan Klunder, Russell hit a 2-run double to open the scoring for the Rivercats.
Russell then came around to score on a double by Tyler Archuleta to give the Rivercats a 3-0 lead after one inning.
The Rivercats pushed the lead to 5-1 before the Aces fought back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Romero and Austin Sanchez came around to score in the inning to cut the Rivercats' lead to 5-3.
The Rivercats answered in the top of the sixth with five runs, all scoring with two outs, to put the game away.
"I think it's big for the guys to get the jitters out," said Rivercats' head coach Lars Baker. "Playing in a tight game was big ,too. 12-3 wasn't indicative of how close this game was, with it being 5-3 heading into the sixth. Learning to play under that stress is what's important for them."
Weaver said the teams' hitting drills prior to the game contributed to the strong offensive outburst.
"We went over to Strike Zone, and I feel like that really helped us find some mechanical problems," said Weaver, who went 3-for-4 and scored three runs in the win. "We're just swinging some really good bats now that it's crunch time."
Tyler Williamson also had a big game at the plate for the Rivercats, going 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
Tray Franks scored three runs for the Rivercats while going 2-for-3 at the plate.
Romero took the loss for the Aces, allowing 10 runs (five earned) on 12 hits in five and two-third innings.
The Rivercats will advance to face Naa'taanii in the next game on Wednesday, while the Aces play an elimination game against the loser of today's Strike Zone/Sting matchup.
Baker is hopeful his team will be able to make a run in the tournament, but knows facing Naa'taanii is a tough task for anyone.
"For us, it's just a matter of getting deep in the tournament and hanging around as long as we can," he said.
The Aces have used the Connie Mack season to develop some of the players from Gallup and Miyamura high schools and are looking for an improved performance in their next game.
"We're hoping to bounce back Wednesday whether we play the Sting or Strike Zone," said Aces' head coach Martin Arias. "We're just hoping to minimize mistakes."
The tournament continues today with 4-Corners facing the DC MOB at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Sting/Strike Zone game at 8 p.m. at Ricketts Park.
Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.