Rio Rancho courtesy runner Bryson Martinez was out at third base on this third-inning play, after catcher Josh Boyer drove in two of three runners on base with a single, but Martinez was nabbed trying to advance from first. (Photo by Joe Grimando)
Yeah, the calendar said it was spring, but the three days of the annual Rio Rancho Sal Puentes baseball tournament at Rio Rancho High School were anything but, with temperatures in the 40s, plus occasional rain, forceful winds – changing direction, and even snow flurries.
Yes, as every coach will tell you, both teams in the games played in the same conditions.
As it turned out the host Rams (13-1-2) won their own tournament for the eighth time in the 20-plus years it’s been held.
Cleveland High (11-3) won two of its three games, not meeting the Rams along the way, and finished fifth.
Here’s how the games played out:
Rams 17, Carlsbad 10: Junior Dylan Archuleta batted and pitched his team to the win over defending 5A champ Carlsbad Saturday afternoon in the championship game.
With the bat, Archuleta was 3 for 3 with six RBIs, three coming on his fifth-inning home run.
The Rams took advantage of two walks and three hit batters in the first inning, when they scored nine runs on just four hits.
All nine runs came with two outs, capped by Niko Alcala’s three-run homer.
Rams ace Seth Lee allowed single runs in the first and second but was relieved by Archuleta (3-0) after walking the bases loaded with two down in the third. Designated hitter Fabian Hernandez greeted him with a triple, followed by a single by Jeremiah Dominguez, getting the Cavemen (13-3) within five runs, 11-6.
CHS scored twice in the fifth, again after two outs, to get closer. Mac Mabrey grounded out on a 3-2 pitch with teammates at second and third, or the damage could have been worse.
Rams catcher Josh Boyer had three RBIs for the Rams, who got eight of their first 14 runs scored by batters who had walked or been hit by a pitch.
“The wind was fine; it was blowing out, so I was good,” Archuleta said, noting it was his second HR of the season. “It was kind of a surprise (I got to pitch).”
Rams coach Ron Murphy said scoring 17 runs against the Cavemen might be believable, “maybe in three seasons put together.
“Sometimes, your bats are on fire. We didn’t face their ace; Mabrey’s one of the best pitchers in the state,” he said. “I felt our kids came out ready to play today and really wanted to win this – play hard, represent and win.”
As for the bats not on fire, he said, “We take a lot of pride in getting hit by a pitch; we take a lot of pride in getting ball four. We talk a lot about ‘team,’ and those are team at-bats. … That’s what we had those first two innings and that’s why we had so many runs.”
Storm 11, Albuquerque Academy 5: In the fifth-place game Saturday, Logan Kinter didn’t last long on the hill, pulled in the first inning when he had trouble finding the plate.
Joseph Stevenson relieved him and earned the win, as he went 3 1/3 frames, followed by Silas Hilton to close it out.
Gabe Nelson led CHS with three hits in four 1at-bats, including a double and two RBIs; Jarren Villa was 2 for 4 with a triple and three RBIs.
Rams 12, Valley 2: In their semifinal game Friday evening, and after spotting the “Valley Boys” a 2-0 lead, the Rams batted around in their half of the first inning, scoring five runs and never looked back.
One run scored on a wild pitch; Vascon Smith, Sean Vigil, Archuleta and Boyer each had an RBI.
Smith led off the third with a homer; Ellison doubled home a run in the fourth; and the Rams scored twice in the fifth without a hit to make it 9-5.
The 10-run mercy rule came into play in the sixth, when the Rams scored three times, as Smith and Boyer each had an RBI double.
Storm 13, Artesia 1: A 10-run third inning left the struggling Bulldogs in the dust Friday afternoon, as the Storm sent 14 batters to the plate.
Villa had the big hit for CHS, a two-run double; the Storm only had six hits in that outburst, helped along by five walks.
The Storm’s final three runs were also “gimmes”: two hit by pitches and another walked to get on base and soon score. Cleveland’s first run came when Kinter reached on an error in the second inning; he moved to second when Villa walked, stole third and came in on a throwing error.
By game’s end, Cleveland’s six hits in the big third were its only hits in the game, with four of its runs crossing the plate on wild pitches.
Rams 12, Goddard 4: You can’t walk guys and make errors against a good team, or it can be your downfall.
That’s what the Rockets (6-3) were left to ponder after their loss in a first-round game Thursday evening.
After GHS’s Ryan Alsup led the game off with a home run, the Rams came back with more than enough runs to win in their first at-bats.
Casen Savage walked and Alcala reached on an error.
After Kai Fitak moved them along with a sacrifice, Savage scored on a wild pitch. Ellison walked and Smith followed with a three-run homer.
The Rams weren’t done playing long ball early.
Vigil drew a walk, and after Archuleta’s pop-out, Boyer homered to make it 6-0.
The Rockets came up with three runs in the second, and the Rams took a 9-4 lead with three runs in the third, with an RBI single by Savage and Fitak hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Smith walked to start the fourth and plated on a double by Vigil, making it 1-4.
Back-to-back doubles by Fitak and Ellison in the fifth and an RBI single by Vigil closed out the game’s scoring.
The Rams used three pitchers: Dylan Tinker struggled early and lasted only into the second inning; Fitak (2-0) earned the win with 3 2/3 solid innings of relief; Smith allowed two walks while getting the final six outs.
Carlsbad 12, Storm 3: By the time Cleveland got its first hit Thursday morning in its first-round contest, the Storm were already down by five and soon headed to the consolation side of the eight-team bracket.
Southpaw Mack Mabrey (2-1) was in complete control, 11 up, 11 down … until Cleveland starting pitcher Austin Barela (3-1) was hit by a pitch, ruining the bid for a perfect game, and Hilton singled to left center, spoiling the no-hit bid. Kinter struck out to end that mild threat.
Carlsbad added two runs in the fifth, stranding a runner at second, for a 9-0 lead.
The Storm finally scored in the sixth, when Brandon Hennessy and Barelas walked, and Hilton’s infield hit scored Hennessy. Barela made it a 9-2 deficit when he scored on a groundout.
The Cavemen added three unearned runs in the seventh off Karter Weddle, the third of four Storm pitchers.
And Cleveland wouldn’t give up without a fight, notching its final run in the seventh on a pinch-hit single by Josiah Armijo, a double by Barela and an infield grounder.
Cleveland coach Shane Shallenberger said he wasn’t worried after the loss to Carlsbad, arguably the best team in the state again.
“We’ll be OK,” he said.
Extra innings: Sandia routed Valley 15-5 in the third-place game; Goddard whipped Artesia 12-0 for seventh place. Artesia was outscored 38-2 in its trio of tournament losses.
… The Rams, who have won their last 11 games in a row and are 8-0 at home, opened District 1-5A action Tuesday at Atrisco Heritage Academy. Next week, the Rams are at Cibola Tuesday and home to meet Cleveland on Thursday; both games start at 4.
… The Storm were slated to play at Farmington Wednesday, and open district play Friday at 6 p.m. when Cibola visits. Next week, Cleveland visits Volcano Vista Tuesday at 4, and then visits the Rams Thursday.
… In their last four games respectively, the Rams have scored 6, 6, 5 and 9 first inning runs.
… The resumption of the APS Metro Championship Game, in which the Rams led visiting La Cueva 12-5 when umpires halted it because of heavy rain, had yet to be announced by press time. “(This game) went too long as it was,” Murphy added. “It should have stopped a long time before that. We had two kids hit in the head, and we had a bat fly into a d