Spartans Bring Successful Season to Close
Finish as State Runner Up
By SHAUN FRIEDRICHSEN
After two heartbreak losses to Bennington at the Class B State Tournament, the Alliance Spartans brought their season to a close, clenching the title of state runner up.
Spartans Head Coach Carlos Palomo said he is happy with the way the Spartans performed at the tournament, noting their strong pitching abilities.
“Going into the state tournament, I knew we had the pitching depths, and we were pretty confident. Going in, I knew we could possibly make a run. A lot of kids were surprised with the way we played. We competed at a high level, but I knew they had it in them. I’m super proud of the way the boys competed. It was a heartbreaker in the state championship, but I’m honored to be their coach, and it was just awesome to see them compete at such a high level,” said Palomo.
He noted that the players stepped up to the challenge, and that he was surprised with some of the big plays they made that helped propel them through the tournament.
“We had very, very big, timely hits,” Palomo said. “If we didn’t have the sticks going, we wouldn’t have been able to pull through in some of the games. I knew our pitching and our defense was going to be solid and keep us in the game, but we had some kids have some big moments. We had very good bunts to put pressure on the opposing teams. It was very good to see.”
Palomo explained that having the support from the community of Alliance and throughout the Panhandle helped the Spartans to carry on.
“It was amazing,” said Palomo. “To have that much support for all of our games was truly incredible. I want to thank the community of Alliance and all the fans, family and friends, not only in Alliance, but around the Panhandle. The energy was truly incredible. I really considered it a home field advantage. It was very, very cool to see.”
Next year, two players will not be returning to the Spartans: Peyton Pinedo and Ezra Ray. Palomo said they have served as beacons of leadership for the team, and that he wishes he could have coached them longer. He believes, despite the loss of Pinedo and Ray, the Spartans will be strong next year.
“When I first started this job, I knew there were some very talented kids here,” said Palomo. “I think the biggest thing that they lacked was discipline, but these kids have bought in since day one. The future looks bright. I tip my cap to Peyton Pinedo and Ezra Ray. They will be truly missed. Our Juniors team able to develop, and they won a district championship as well. All I care about is attitude and effort. If they can meet me halfway, then we can create some memories.”
Reflecting on the experience, Pinedo said he is proud of what the team was able to accomplish this season.
“Winning 42 games, and winning the district championship, and having the chance to play in the state championship was great,” said Pinedo. “It sucks that we didn’t come out on the right end of things, but I think you can learn a lot from experiences like this. I think we surprised a lot of people, and I think a lot of people didn’t think we could make it this far. We kept believing in each other, and we believed we could do it. It ended up being a fun season.”
Pinedo said he was inspired to play baseball by his grandfather and his dad. He said he has been playing since he was about 3 years old. Pinedo noted that the experience of being able to play with his friends on the team is something that will stay with him for the rest of his life.
Pinedo does not plan to pursue a career in baseball. He currently attends WNCC and plans to major in sports management. Pinedo offered some advice for future Spartans.
“Just believe in each other,” Pinedo said. “Whatever life throws at you, just keep fighting back. Just never give up.”
Ray said playing in the state championship is a dream come true. He is proud of the way the team competed at the tournament. As he moves forward through life, Ray will always remember what it was like attending practice daily, and the experiences he had with his teammates.
“I’ll always remember the friendships we made and the brotherhood between us,” said Ray. “We showed up every day, and knew we were going to work hard every day. I learned how to handle adversity and overcome it. When you’re down, you’ve got to keep fighting and you’ll usually come out on top.”
Ray is currently attending college in Torrington, and pursuing a degree in welding. Someday he hopes to be able to coach baseball.
“In the future, I’d love to be a coach and help out the younger kids, because they always look up to you. It’s cool to see them yelling your name.”
Ray offered some advice for future Spartans as well.
“No matter what, always work your hardest,” said Ray. “When you put that jersey on, just know that you’re part of a family. It’s the Spartan uniform, and that’s something you want to be proud of.”
Pinedo and Ray said they are grateful for the support from the community and the Panhandle as a whole.
The coaching staff, Palomo noted, has played a crucial role in helping the Spartans continue to develop.
“I want to thank my coaching staff,” Palomo said. “I think that’s huge too, having the coaching staff be all on the same page. We all clicked and had each other’s back.”
Palomo said the experience at the state tournament will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
“It’s something they’ll cherish the rest of their lives,” said Palomo. “I think next year, these boys will be hungrier than ever. They’re a very good group of kids to coach, and I’m honored to be their coach. It was fun to see these kids grow.”