The 2024 high school baseball season has been a high-hanging curveball for Magdalena, but the Steers are making the adjustments needed by a team suffering from injuries to win ball games.

On Saturday, the Steers struggled at times on the basepaths, causing frustration for Magdalena’s coach, Kyl Candelaria. Despite posting a 15-5 win over the Zuni Thunderbirds, he knows his team won’t be able to get away with mistakes in the postseason.

The Steers got a taste of the state tournament on Wednesday when Magdalena traveled to Estancia to face defending state champion Melrose. The results of that contest were past the press deadline.

“We did better today. I still want to see us improve, especially offensively on the bases. My pitchers are finally starting to throw strikes, which keeps us in the game,” Candelaria said.

Starter Shane Montoya threw 87 pitches through four innings of work and laced 67 of those across the plate for strikes. That led to 10 Thunderbirds striking out, but Zuni did garner nine hits and five runs against Montoya, who did not issue a walk.

Reliever Joe Zamora threw just 21 pitches over the final two frames, striking out two batters and allowing one hit. Like Montoya, Zamora was stingy, not giving any free passes to first base.

Zamora, who has been out with a hamstring injury, was a difference-maker for the Steers. He went 3-4 at the plate and hit the game’s only home run.

“Joe has been out for a while, and we struggled without him. He came in right off the bat and made a difference,” Candelaria said. “Now I’m looking at facing Melrose on Wednesday and seeing if we can button things up and get some confidence going into district.”

The “button things up” concerns are how the Steers run and react on the basepaths. Candelaria has encountered this problem before, as young players get moved out of position.

“They’re worried about their new position, so we’re not completely focused on what we need to do on the basepath. If we can focus, if we can continue to throw strikes, and start hitting the ball and putting the ball in play, I’m confident going into the district and the postseason about winning no matter who we play any day.”

It certainly helps if you’re coming off an 18-hit performance like the one the Steers put on Saturday.

Eight of the Steers had a multiple-hit game, with Zeb Apachito matching Zamora’s 3-4 at the plate, but he drove in a game-high three RBIs with his strokes.

Matthew Lopez, Montoya, Javen Tafoya, Ayden Herschbach, Matthew Parker, and Jayden “Nacho” Piasso all had two hits.

Zuni took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning before Magdalena responded with six runs over the next two innings. Zuni bounced back to trail 6-5 after a three-run fifth, but the Steers would score four runs in the bottom of the stanza and end the game with five runs in the sixth.

The Steers worked their small-ball tactics at times and stole eight bases, including three by Apachito. Eighth-grader Israel Molina, who picked up pinch-running duties, is showing great promise on the base paths.