Rio Rancho’s designated-hitter, Dylan Archuleta (6), avoids the tag and gets the “safe” sign from the plate umpire for his first inning grand slam Thursday afternoon. (Herron photo)


ALBUQUERQUE – The No. 1 Rio Rancho High School baseball team didn’t go into its Class 5A quarterfinal contest vs. No. 8 Rio Grande Thursday afternoon as a two-touchdown favorite, but that’s how it turned out.

Rio Rancho 14, Rio Grande 0: Seth Lee, Ryan Lewis and Jason Parker combined on this five-inning, two-hit shutout, advancing the Rams (25-2-2) into the “final four” for the 11th time in school history.

The Rams batted around in the first two innings, taking a 5-0 lead after the first and 11-0 after the second.

Leadoff batter Casen Savage hit the first pitch of the bottom of the first over the fence at the new Jennifer Riordan Spark Kindness Sports Complex and designated-hitter Dylan Archuleta soon made it 5-0, as his bases-loaded fly ball to right field was lost in the sun and he and three teammates scored.

In the second inning, Savage led off with a single. Niko Alcala and Kai Fitak followed with walks to load the bases, and Vascon Smith was hit by a pitch, forcing Savage home and keeping the sacks loaded – and sending Ravens (20-10) lefty Isaiah Gutierrez off the mound.

Sean Vigil singled home two runs and Dean Ellison did likewise, sending the first reliever to the dugout.

Archuleta singled home a run, Josh Boyer drove another run in on a fielder’s choice and Dylan Tinker’s fielder’s choice made it 11-0.

Lee (7-0) was done, working two innings and giving up one hit and fanning four. Lewis then went six up, six down for the third and fourth innings; Parker gave up a harmless one-out double and quickly got the next two hitters.

Alcala led off the third with a double and Smith socked a two-run homer to make it 13-0.

The Rams concluded the rout with an unearned run in the fourth, on a Boyer double and an RBI single by Fitak.

By game’s end, every Ram in the starting lineup, except Tinker, had at least one hit; Savage, Archuleta and Boyer had two each.

“It’s very rewarding,” RRHS coach Ron Murphy said. “Our kids came out we got some runs early and that was key. We got to play a lot of people and, yeah, it was a good day.”

The Rams meet the winner of the 7 p.m. Thursday quarterfinal, No. 12 Piedra Vista vs. No. 4 Volcano Vista, Friday at 4 p.m. at the Riordan complex.

The rams didn’t face the Panthers this season, but were 2-1 vs. the Hawks, whose 3-2 win at RRHS on April 28 ended the Rams’ 20-game winning streak and 12-game homefield winning streak.