Sunday, May 18, 2008

Class 5A baseball state tourney

There were really no surprises over the weekend in the first round of the Class 5A state baseball tournament, which featured a best 2-of-3 format.
However, there were some close games and a couple of series went the entire distance. Las Cruces High, seeded No. 11 took No. 6 Carlsbad to three, before bowing out and No. 13 Sandia took one from No. 4 Eldorado. Also, No. 10 Cibola and No. 7 Mayfield played a close game on Friday, No. 15 Manzano gave No. 2 Rio Rancho fits and No. 8 Santa Fe High and No. 9 Rio Grande played two one-run games with SFHS winning both.

The eight remaining teams are No. 1 La Cueva, No. 2 Rio Rancho, No. 3 Onate, No. 4 Eldorado, No. 5 Valley, No. 6 Carlsbad, No. 7 Mayfield and No. 8 Rio Rancho.

No. 1 La Cueva is 25-3 on the year and beat Clovis twice to begin play in the state tournament. Among the top players are pitcher Nolan Snell and batters Mitchell Garver, Andrew Lamb and Josh McAllister, all of whom had two RBI each in La Cueva's 17-0 win against Clovis on Saturday. Before Rio Rio Rancho won the 5A title last year, the Bears had won four straight state titles.

No. 2 Rio Rancho enters the tournament with a 25-3 mark. The Rams are the defending state champs and beat Manzano to advance to the quarters. Longtime coach Ron Murphy is no stranger to the postseason have led both St. Pius and the Rams to postseason success. The Rams have pitching depth with Anthony Haase and Alex Wehner and Haase is also a threat at the plate.

No. 3 Onate is coming off a series win against Los Lunas. The District 3-5A champs went 11-1 in district and pitching is the key. Ariel Perez, Abe Tarin, Randy Montoya and Matt Cannon give the team four quality starters. First baseman Joe Koerper has 15 homers in 28 games, not too bad for the junior.

No. 4 Eldorado enters the quarters with a 20-9 mark. The Eagles are always one of the state's best and expect them to be in the hunt again. Pitcher Patrick Roney won Game 3 against Sandia and at the plate, Sam Wilson, Austin Cantwell and Nolan Trammell are all formidiable hitters.

No. 5 Valley is 21-7 and played in a tough district with Santa Fe and La Cueva. Last year, the Vikes were the No. 1 seed but fell in the quarters to Onate. Pitcher Ryan Reynolds is the ace. Vikings beat Gadsden in the opening round.

No. 6 Carlsbad is 21-7 on the year. Team's best wins were probably against Las Cruces High in the first round and a win against Gadsden earlier in the year. A couple of key players are Andrew Castillo and Trey Gonzales. Played weak schedule.

No. 7 Mayfield was last year's runner-up and made the semifinals two years ago. Team has won nine straight and finished second in 3-5A. Beat Cibola to reach quarters. Top hitters are Nathan Enriquez, Freddy Young, Tony Soto and Isaiah Dominguez, Enriquez is ace on the staff.

No. 8 Santa Fe High enters the quarters with a very good 20-8 mark. Beat Rio Rancho, Valley and La Cueva in regular season. Knocked off Rio Grande to reach quarters. Designated Hitter Richard Pacheco is a key reason the team advanced with key hits to dismantle the Ravens. Pitcher Roby Romero is 6-0 on the mound.