First place in District 1-5A is on the line Friday evening at the Shockyards, where the host Cleveland Storm (11-7, 2-0) entertain No. 1 Rio Rancho (18-2, 2-0)
The first pitch, expected to be tossed by the Storm’s southpaw Jace Dominic, should happen at 6 p.m. Right-handed Seth Lee is expected to start on the mound for the Rams.
Both teams are coming off “windy-wins” on Tuesday.
The rams edged the Storm 4-3 on March 26 in the championship game of the Sal Puentes Rio Rancho Tournament. Closer than that: The city’s varsity baseball teams have met 33 times, with the Rams owning a 17-16 edge.
Here’s what happened Tuesday in games played in Rio Rancho.
Rams 11, Cibola 3: Knocking out 13 hits and making good use of eight Cibola errors Tuesday evening paved the way for an easy victory for the hosts on a horrendously windy day.
Southpaw senior Devon Alvarado (5-0) was cruising along with a no-hitter until an infield single in the fourth; the grounder was hit to first baseman Seth Lee, and with Alvarado nowhere in sight, he was late to the bag and Aiden Depoy beat Lee there.
No matter: Alvarado gave up wind-aided solo homers in the fifth to Tommy White and Dalton Snell.
The Cougars (8-6, 0-2) scored their final run in the seventh when reliever Jason Gordon gave up a leadoff double, and that runner went to third on a fly ball to left – caught at the top of the fence by Elijah Castañeda
The Rams scored more than enough runs to win in their first at-bats.
Rio Rancho added five unearned runs in the fourth, with Kai Fitak providing a two-run single. The Rams’ final run scored in the sixth when Fitak singled, went to second on a wild pickoff attempt, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Bryan Vasquez’s triple.
Fitak and Lee each had three hits and combined for five RBIs.
Storm 1, Volcano Vista 0: Austin Barela (2-1) tossed a two-hitter for the Storm, winning a tremendous pitching duel Tuesday against Volcano Vista (12-6, 2-1) southpaw Regan Hall.
In the bottom of the seventh, Jace Dominic singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored with one out on Logan Kinter’s single to shallow right.
Dominic had to wait briefly to make sure the ball wasn’t caught, then blazed a trail toward home. The throw from right beat him to the plate just slightly, but Dominic slid around the tag attempt to end the game.
That sequence made a winner of the Storm and junior Barela, who struck out nine and escaped trouble when it arose.
“Both pitchers were just fantastic,” Storm coach Shane Shallenberger said. “Their guy was unbelievable. Austin was unbelievable. We caught a break, and we got the win luckily this time.”