ALBUQUERQUE – Senior southpaw Jace Dominic hurled a five-inning no-hitter down the hill Friday afternoon, striking out 10 Cougars and walking three as Cleveland opened its District 1-5A slate with a 16-0 win at Cibola.
His batterymate, catcher Braylen Elzy, started the onslaught with a three-run homer in the first inning, when the Storm (10-7) jumped out to a 6-0 lead. Cibola starting pitcher Josh Ngo walked the first two Storm batters he faced, and Dominic got his first of three singles to load the bases.
The first run scored on a wild pitch, and Elzy – because of the wild pitch – was deprived of a grand slam.
Austin Barela, James Brevin and Chase Tyler each singled before Sandoval, the Storm’s leadoff batter, doubled home Barela and Brevin.
The Storm added an unearned run in the second, were held scoreless in the third by reliever Drake Snell, and then battered Snell and reliever Aidan Depoy for six more runs in the fourth.
That’s when Elzy led off with a triple; the Storm were aided in that big frame by two walks, a hit batter and an error, with Sandoval driving in two of the runs.
Cleveland scored its final three runs in the fifth, one on a wild pitch from Depoy and the others on RBI-singles by Dominic and Elzy.
Sandoval and Elzy finished with four RBIs; Dominic added two RBIs.
Dominic said it was one of his best outings of the season, with seven Ks after facing the first nine Cougars.
“It felt good,” Dominic said of the district win, which followed the Storm’s 4-3, nine-inning loss at Rio Rancho on Saturday.
“I think we just all had to play our game, focus on hitting the ball (they did, with 13 hits), having an approach at the plate,” he said. “It’s always a great feeling (to have a 6-0 lead before throwing a pitch).”
Dominic said he expects to pitch Friday when the Rams visit the Shockyards.
The Storm had their Tuesday game in Farmington rained out, and that decision was made before the bus was to leave CHS.
… This week, the Storm face Volcano Vista Tuesday, before meeting the Rams. Both games start at 6 p.m.