Rams sweep own tournament
Last updated 3/27/2017 at 1:11am
PORTALES — The Portales baseball team received a big boost in confidence this weekend, sweeping its home tournament with games against Robertson, West Las Vegas and Sandia Prep.
Starting Friday with a late night doubleheader, the Rams (5-2) first took down the 2016 state champion Sun Devils (6-6) 12-2 behind the arm of Emilio Lovato on the mound and a high-powered lineup from the plate. Lovato went five innings allowing only two runs while striking out nine batters. Darion Ontiveros led the Rams from the plate going 3-for-4 with four RBIs.
"We are doing really good after losing our first two games," said Lovato. "Then we came here and showed what we can do with our own class. . . Now we are putting the ball in play and making other teams do what they have to do."
Josiah Lucero pitched a gem in the nightcap against the Dons (5-4), allowing only one run off five hits, while striking out five batters to win 17-1. Lucero also showed his skill on offense, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
A noticeable difference between this week's performances and last was that the Rams have really started to cut down on fielding errors. With the arms Portales can throw at teams, the solid defense behind the mound is paying off.
"Practice was good (this week), we had a couple of basketball guys that only had a day's worth earlier in the season," said Rams coach Dusty Nusser. "We've had some good practice and we have our core group of just baseball guys. I really like the direction we are heading now."
For Saturday's finale, the Rams took on an 8-2 Robertson team and while things got close late, Portales managed to hold off the Cardinals for the win, 11-10.
Ontiveros had another standout performance from the plate, going nearly perfect from the plate, 4-of-5, through six innings. Damian Belden got the win from the mound, with relief help from Jordan Garcia, who pitched the final 2 2/3 innings.
The tournament sweep was something Nusser and his team were looking for, coming into the season with high expectations. Now that the Rams are seemingly rolling, things are looking much brighter.
"Our confidence is up to where we want it to be. We know we have to keep getting better, but we know we are a good baseball team," said Nusser. "I think this tournament was really good for us. I felt like we did a pretty good job."