Cleveland first baseman Austin Barela, called “Austin Barcla” for the first few innings last week, slaps a tag too late on a pickoff move at Cibola. (Herron photo)


The Cleveland High baseball team needs to beat visiting Rio Rancho Tuesday evening, April 25, at the Shock Yards to keep their District 1-5A first-place hopes alive, after a pair of district wins last week.

The Rams (21-1-2) go into the city clash with a 19-game winning streak and a 6-0 record in district contests, and have a game Friday with Volcano Vista (17-6, 5-2). The Storm (17-6, 4-2) have to hope for a Hawks victory at Rio Rancho Friday at 4 p.m. if they can beat the Rams Tuesday, and go to a tiebreaker to determine first, second and third places in 1-5A. The first round of the state tournament begins next Friday.

Cleveland 3, Volcano Vista 2: Sophomore infielder Jarren Villa got the job done on the mound Friday evening, when the Hawks were shackled on three hits, but seemed poised for a comeback rally in the seventh.

“Up 3-2 in the seventh inning, the leadoff batter for Volcano Vista hit a double – the only hit Villa allowed in 3 1/3 innings. After a failed pickoff attempt at second, the runner went to third on Cleveland’s only error of the game on a wild throw that went to outfield,” coach Shane Shallenberger said. “With no outs and that runner at third, Villa got a line drive to shortstop (for the first out). Then they tried to bunt and Villa threw the guy out at first base, holding the runner at third, and ended the game on a ground ball to shortstop Logan Kinter.”
The Storm had grabbed the lead in what turned out to be their final at-bats.

Anthony Del Angel singled to right with, Gabe Nelson singled up the middle, and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Brandon Hennessy struck out for the second out, and Logan Kinter’s grounder between first and second was misplayed for an error, with Del Angel scoring to break the tie.

The Hawks beat the Storm 2-1 in their meeting at VVHS on April 4, so neither team had an edge in a tiebreaker, with each winning one-run games.

Cleveland 15, Cibola 5: Playing on a breezy but sunny afternoon “down the hill” April 18, the Storm had four innings in which they scored three or more runs.

Villa led off the three-run first with a double and went 4 for 5 in the game.

Villa later scored on a wild pitch, and the Storm’s other two runs in the first were unearned, as Cibola made mistakes in the field.

The Storm added four runs in the second, half scoring on a triple by Chase Tyler.

After the Cougars had two hits and three walks from Storm starting pitcher Jared Davis – and managed only one run – Cleveland made it a 10-1 game with three more runs in the third, two crossing the plate on a double by Austin Barela.

Cleveland made it 12-1 when Nelson socked a two-run homer in the fourth, and after Cleveland was finally held without a run in an inning and close to ending the game via the mercy rule, the Cougars scored three runs off reliever Kinter (3-2), making it 12-4 and extending the game.

Tyler, Silas Hilton and Del Angel each drove in a run in the sixth, and when Kinter only allowed one run, the game was history.

Tyler, Barela, Del Angel, Nelson and Malachi Jaramillo each had two hits in the Storm’s 16-hit barrage against a trio of Cougar hurlers.

Extra innings: Cleveland closes out the regular season with a game at last-place Atrisco Heritage Academy at 4 p.m. on the 28th. The Storm ripped the Jaguars 7-2 at Cleveland on April 11.