It was a great day for the Rio Rancho High School baseball team Saturday morning, as the Rams won their first APS Metro diamond title since 2013, led their longtime head coach, Ron Murphy, to his 600th career win, and shut out a District 1-5A foe en route to adding a trophy to their collection for a year.
Junior Seth Lee (3-0) scattered six hits while going the distance, and the Rams (13-1) scored enough runs in their first at-bats to earn the win.
Notching his third bunt single in two days, leadoff batter Casen Savage soon scored the only run his team would need. He moved to second on a passed ball and came in on the first of six Hawks errors in the contest.
Ryan Casados reached on that first miscue and made it 2-0 on a Dominick Priddy single. Elijah Castañeda reached on a fielder’s choice and the Hawks’ third error of the frame allowed
Castañeda to score for a 3-0 lead.
An error in the third figured in the Rams’ fourth run, driven in on a triple by Vascon Smith in the third.
Casados walked to start the fifth and Priddy followed with a single.
Castañeda stroked an RBI single and Bryan Vasquez, running for Priddy, made it 6-0, crossing the plate on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Smith.
Lee faltered just twice, as the Hawks (8-3) filled the bases in the second and again in the fifth, but failed to score.
Lee said he didn’t have a best pitch on the day, that his secret to success was “just being crafty, you know. That’s a good-swinging team.
“Our whole team hit pretty well and that set the tone for me,” Lee said, a bit miffed after going hitless in three at-bats.
“We don’t have as great of a day if we don’t swing it like that,” he said of the early lead.
“It’s a big honor to win a tournament with 16 teams, so many great teams, at this tournament,” Murphy said. “It’s not an easy tournament to win. It takes a lot of depth, a lot of pitching, it takes kids playing together.
“I thought we did a very good job of fundamental baseball. … I don’t think we did anything to defeat ourselves.”
Extra innings: The Rams hit the field again Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the final game of the four games being played in the opening round of the annual Sal Puentes./Rio Rancho Tourney. The Bloomfield Bobcats provide the opposition.
… This was the fourth time the Rams appeared in the APS Metro championship game: They beat La Cueva, 11-4, in 2013; they lost to La Cueva, 5-2, in 2017; they lost to Cleveland, 8-4, in 2019, the last time it had been played. The pandemic wiped out the event in 2020 and ’21.