Carlsbad’s Zach Galindo appeared to be dead to rights when he tried to score on a ground ball hit to Storm third baseman Logan Kinter in the second inning, but catcher Owen Bishop dropped the ball, Galindo was safe, and the Cavemen had a 1-0 lead. (Photo by Joe Grimando)



Rams’ early homers ground Rockets

You can’t walk guys and make errors against a good team, or it can be your downfall.

That’s what the Goddard Rockets (6-3) were left to ponder after their 12-4 loss to host Rio Rancho (11-1-2) on a cold windy Thursday night at the annual Sal Puentes Rio Rancho Baseball Tournament.

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 Niko Alcala reached on an error.

After Kai Fitak moved them along with a sacrifice, Savage scored on a wild pitch. Dean Ellison walked and Vascon Smith followed with a three-run homer.

The Rams weren’t done playing long ball early.

Sean Vigil drew a walk, and after Dylan Archuleta’s pop-out, Josh Boyer homered to make it 6-0.

The Rockets came up with three runs in the second, helped along by Fitak’s error at third on what looked like a double-play opportunity.

The rams took a 9-4 lead with three runs in the third, with an RBI single by Savage and a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch to Fitak.

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.

The victory sent the Rams into a semifinal game today (March 24) at 6:30 vs. Valley, a 3-1 winner over Albuquerque Academy.

The other semifinal today features a rematch of last year’s 5A championship game, Carlsbad vs. Sandia. The Cavemen beat the Matadors 7-0 for the 2022 blue trophy.

Storm struggle vs. Carlsbad lefty

By the time Cleveland got its first hit Thursday morning in its first-round contest, the Storm trailed defending state champ Carlsbad 5-0.

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 Silas Hilton singled to left-center, spoiling the no-hit bid.

Logan 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. But with Hilton at first base, a ball hit toward right field by Kinter struck Hilton for the game’s final out, with Kinter awarded a single.

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.

The Storm face Artesia, a 13-1 victim to Sandia in another first-rounder; in a consolation contest this morning at 11 at RRHS.

Albuquerque Academy meets Goddard at 1:30 p.m. in the other consolation-round game today.