District 1-5A champion Cleveland, as expected, extended its state playoff string to 12 appearances in a row and 1-5A runner-up Rio Rancho made it 16 for 16 since seeding began in 2006 when the Class 5A baseball bracket was released May 1.
Like pre-pandemic years, the first round is a best-of-three format, with the higher seeds hosting those games; single games are played Friday, and Saturday is set aside for as many as two games, if needed. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested May 12 and 13 at Santa Ana Star Field (aka Lobo Field) in Albuquerque. Saturday’s 5A championship game is set for 10:30 a.m. at Isotopes Park.
Both city teams are familiar with their first-round opponents – they each play “Hawks” — this weekend, with the No. 6 Storm (16-9) meeting Centennial (16-10) for the second time this spring and the No. 7 Rams (22-4) squaring off with 1-5A foe Volcano Vista (14-10) for the fourth time.
Admission is $5 (cash only).
Storm vs. Hawks
Centennial, the District 2-5A runner-up, handed the Storm their second loss of the season, 8-7, on March 11 at a tournament in Las Cruces. In 2021, the Storm beat the Hawks 8-7 and 18-8 in a doubleheader at the Shockyards.
A five-run sixth inning turned that meeting from a 7-3 Storm lead into a Hawks victory, with pitcher Logan Kinter charged with that five-spot, although only two of those runs were earned.
The Storm have won three in a row and seven of their last nine.
Cleveland is coming off its second shutout of Atrisco Heritage Academy, 12-0, on April 29 at the Shockyards; on April 12, Cleveland won at AHA, 15-0.
Chase Tyler hit his second homer in five days and finished with two RBIs. Braylen Elzy, James Brevig and Malachi Jaramillo also had two RBIs apiece.
Southpaw Austin Barela limited the Jaguars (4-20, 1-7) to one hit through four innings, and Justin Brady closed out the mercy rule-shortened six-inning game with a 1-2-3 sixth.
Friday’s game time is 6 p.m. Saturday’s first game is slated for 11 a.m., and the “if” game would be played at 1 p.m.
Rams vs. Hawks
Rio Rancho needed a win at Volcano Vista (14-10) on April 29 or it faced a third-place finish in district – and future Amarillo College teammates Dominick Priddy and Elijah Castañeda combined to go 7 for 7, with Castañeda socking a two-run homer in the fifth and driving in four runs in the contest.
Junior lefty Jason Parker (7-0) scattered four hits in his complete-game outing, an 8-2 victory.
Earlier this season, the Rams beat the Hawks 6-0 at RRHS in the APS Metro Championships finale, coach Ron Murphy’s 600th career win; and 9-8, also at RRHS, in their first 1-5A meeting on April 12.
Friday’s game time is 5 p.m. Saturday’s first game is set for 10 a.m., and the “if” game would be played at 12:30 p.m.
Elsewhere in the first round
No. 16 Eldorado (11-13) at No. 1 Carlsbad (22-4); No. 15 Mayfield (12-14) at No. 2 Sandia (18-6); No. 14 Piedra Vista (14-12) at No. 3 La Cueva (20-4), last year’s state champ; No. 13 Los Lunas (17-9) at No. 4 Organ Mountain (23-3); No. 12 Las Cruces (20-6) at No. 5 Hobbs (20-6); and No. 9 Farmington (18-7) at No. 8 Rio Grande (19-5).
Extra innings: Admission prices (cash only) for the state tournament, set by the NMAA, are $10 for adults and $5 for students in grades K-12, senior citizens and the military.
… MaxPreps has put the spotlight on 10 of the most incredible high school baseball fields in the country, and leading off a short video on its site is the Rio Rancho High School ballpark. The tour includes nine other ballparks, from California to Virginia.
… Murphy notched his 14th 20-win season as the Rams’ head coach this season, which is his 25th year at the helm. More remarkable is the fact that he’s had only one losing season in that quarter-century: The Rams were 13-17 in 2011.
… If both City of Vision teams prevail this weekend, they’ll meet for the fourth time in 2022 on Thursday at 7 p.m. in a quarterfinal. Cleveland has won twice; each game was decided by one run. All-time, CHS is 18-17 vs. RRHS.