Rio Rancho’s high school baseball teams are in action Thursday in back-to-back Class 5A state tournament games at Santa Ana Star Field, aka Lobo Field, Thursday.
The sixth-seeded Cleveland Storm (18-10) face No. 3 La Cueva (22-4) at 4 p.m.
The seventh-seeded Rio Rancho Rams (24-4) take the field after that game, meeting No. 2 Sandia (20-7) at 7 p.m.
Storm and Da Bears
This will be the seventh time Cleveland and La Cueva have met in the postseason.
They’ve met once this season: On April 13 at the Shockyards, the Bears beat the Storm 6-4.
The teams met for the first time in the postseason in 2013, when the Bears dispatched the Storm 3-2 and 10-0 in the first round.
Four of the next five meetings were in the quarterfinals: CHS won the 2016 meeting, 7-1; the Bears returned the favor in 2018, 4-1; in 2019, the Storm kayoed the Bears, 3-1; and last season, the Bears sent the Storm packing, 10-4.
The teams also played in the 2017 championship game at Isotopes Park, a 10-4 La Cueva victory.
Rams and Matadors
Coincidentally, the last time the Rams won the state title, it was in 2013 when they beat the Matadors 4-3 at Isotopes Park, on a sacrifice fly into foul territory.
Oddly, despite being around 12 seasons longer than the Storm, the Rams have only met the Matadors three other times in the postseason: The Rams lost a 2002 regional at Sandia, 6-4; the Rams won a 2007 semifinal at Isotopes Park, 7-5; and the Matadors eliminated the Rams in a 2012 quarterfinal game, 5-4.
In other playoff action
There are two other quarterfinal games Thursday. At 10 a.m., No. 5 Hobbs (22-6) meets No. 4 Organ Mountain (25-3); at 1 p.m., No. 1 Carlsbad (24-4) tangles with No. 9 Farmington (20-7).
Those two games’ winners meet Friday at 1 p.m. in a semifinal. The winners of the games involving City of Vision teams meet in the other semifinal Friday at 4 p.m.
Saturday’s 5A championship game is at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Isotopes Park.
Extra innings: Tickets are only available online (nmact.org) and cost $10 for adults, and $5 for students, senior citizens and military members.
… Through last week, the Rams and Storm have met 35 times, with the Storm holding an 18-17 edge. They’ve met just once in the postseason, a 4-3 Rams victory in a 2016 quarterfinal match-up at Isotopes Park.
… You’ve no doubt heard that baseballs can take weird hops, but a key play in the Rams’ 9-1 victory over Volcano Vista, ending the Hawks’ season, came when Rams first baseman Seth Lee dropped a third-inning popup. The game was scoreless, thus no one knew the Rams would easily win. The Hawks had the bases loaded and Lee raced into foul territory, his back to the infield, and got his glove on it, but couldn’t hang on. Had he caught it, the runner on third could easily have scored; instead, pitcher Jason Parker got an infield popup and two strikeouts.