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Lynx keep championship bid alive in 5-2 win over Laguna Acoma

Lynx keep championship bid alive in 5-2 win over Laguna Acoma

GALLUP

One down, two to go.

That’s the approach the Rehoboth Christian Lynx baseball team will use in hopes of reaching the Class 2A state title game for the second straight year.

On May 8, the seventh-seeded Lynx rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to post a 5-2 win over No. 10 Laguna Acoma in the first round of the playoffs at Miyamura High School in Gallup.

“We lost the state championship game last year and that left a bad taste,” Rehoboth coach Ken Zylstra said. “We had never made it that far before and we’re ready to get after it again.”

The Lynx (11-10) will now face No. 2 seed Loving (16-2) in the next round. That game is scheduled for Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at the Jennifer Riordan Kindness Sports Complex in Albuquerque.

“That’s not going to be an easy game,” Zylstra said. “We’re gonna have to come out and do our best. We just have to make plays and if we make plays we can win a lot of games.”

The Lynx made those plays last Wednesday against its district rival, Laguna Acoma. Rehoboth had split its season series with the Hawks earlier this year. Laguna Acoma won the first meeting, 12-2, a contest that went seven innings. In the second game, Rehoboth bounced back with a six-inning, 14-3 win.

“We cleaned up a lot of the errors, so that’s the biggest difference from the last time we played them,” Zylstra said.

The visiting Hawks, however, plated two unearned runs in the top of the opening frame last week.

Leadoff hitter Patrick Smith singled to right, and he advanced to second on a passed ball. A groundout by Tagoya Pedro put Smith at third.

Rehoboth ace Raeden West then walked Sheldon Cheromiah to put two runners on with one out.

The Hawks went up 1-0 when Smith reached home on a passed ball. On the same play, Cheromiah took second on a throwing error by Lynx catcher Jonathan Zylstra, Ken’s son.

The Hawks’ base runner then took the next two bases as the ball was bobbled by Rehoboth third baseman Kodah Chapman, which led to another LA score.

Navajo Times | Quentin Jodie
Rehoboth Christian Lynx Kodah Chapman glances toward the direction of head coach Ken Zylstra before his at-bat attempt against the Laguna Acoma Hawks on May 8 in the first round of the 2A state playoffs at Miyamura High School in Gallup. Rehoboth advanced with a 5-2 win.

After a 1-2-3 inning, Rehoboth got those two runs back in the bottom of the second. Sophomore Jude Christensen led off the inning with a single and Chapman followed with a walk.

Two batters later junior Zach VanDrunen nailed a two-run single in the left alleyway that tied the contest at 2-all.

The Lynx took the lead for good in the next frame as Jonathan Zylstra led off with a single. The Rehoboth catcher stole second and he advanced to third on a fielder’s choice.

On the ensuing play, Chapman hit a deep fly that was caught by Laguna Acoma left fielder Zayiah Dailey. Nonetheless, Zylstra tagged up as his run put the Lynx up, 3-2.

Rehoboth added an insurance run in the bottom half of the fourth. Senior DH Nehemiah Hardy, who went 1-for-2 at the plate, nailed his sixth offering in left field that landed near the warning track for a triple.

Hardy later scored with an RBI single from West.

In the sixth West logged Rehoboth’s final run as Jonathan Zylstra beat the throw to first for an RBI single with two outs.

“We got down early, but we had to get ourselves back up,” Ken Zylstra said. “We were able to match them and get some runs on the board right away. Then we shut them down, and that was key.”

West went the distance as the right-handed ace surrendered two unearned runs on three hits while fanning six batters and walking one.

“They hadn’t seen me pitch before,” West said. “I think that is what probably threw them off. The last time we played them I was playing on the field, and for this game I wanted it more than anybody out there.”

Chapman also played an instrumental role as he assisted in five putouts from his third base position.

“Kodah made a ton of plays,” the Rehoboth coach said. “He had that one error, so that was critical.”

“Rae did his job with his pitches and I was just cleaning up after him,” Chapman said. “I mean, we just went out there to back him up.”

The Lynx scattered six hits, including four on starting pitcher Chawncie Gedman, who pitched five innings.

Jonathan Zylstra led the team with two hits.

Despite sporting an 11-10 record going into Thursday’s quarterfinal, the Lynx are feeling optimistic about their chances of getting deep in the tournament.

“We struggled at the beginning of the year with injuries and players being absent,” West said. “There were games that we should have won, but we didn’t have our entire squad.

“We still have one guy out right now,” he added, “but having people like Kodah and Morgan back is a big plus.”

The Rehoboth coach acknowledged that the team was lacking chemistry during that stretch as the Lynx played a handful of teams at the 3A level.

“We played those teams to get us ready and during that time we had guys hurt and guys off,” Ken Zylstra said. “We were trying to put the best nine on the field and I feel like this is the best nine that we have, which is really exciting.

“We’re ready to go,” he added.


About The Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at qjodie@navajotimes.com

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