The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Texico cruises in first-round matchup


May 3, 2018

Kevin Wilson

Texico junior Dalton Thatcher snags a high first-inning pitch in the Wolverines' Class 3A first-round state tournament game against Zuni. Umpires initially declined to award Thatcher first base on a hit-by-pitch, but quickly realized it was ball four anyway and awarded the free pass. Thatcher faced the minimum nine batters in his three innings of pitching work and recorded eight strikeouts. Texico won 21-0.

TEXICO — The Texico High machine keeps rolling along.

The No. 1 Wolverines clobbered No. 16 Zuni in Wednesday's Class 3A baseball state tournament first-round matchup 21-0. The defending 3A champs sent 24 batters to the plate in an 18-run first and never looked back.

With the win, the Wolverines advance to a 10 a.m. Wednesday quarterfinal at Cleveland High School against No. 9 Laguna Acoma.

"I thought the kids came out prepared and locked in, and did a great job of taking what they gave us," Texico coach Ty Thatcher said. "We hit the ball hard at times and got a commanding lead. We pitched well, and I thought Dalton (Thatcher) and Luke (Phipps) did a good job of working on some things and pitching to location. Overall, I thought it was good."

After a quick top of the first inning, the Wolverines (24-2) went right to work at the plate. Dalton Thatcher's single to the right field gap scored Robin Winton to put the Wolverines on the board. A double by Nathan Phipps and an error at first base on a Ben Crist grounder brought home Thatcher, before Luke Phipps' RBI-single past second base extended the lead to 3-0.

Two-run doubles by Chris Harrison and Brayden Wines increased the lead to 7-0, which was followed by a bases loaded walk from Cole Rohrbach. Brock Thompson's RBI single and Harrison's two-run double to center field gave Texico 13 runs, before Rohrbach and Nathan Phipps doubles got Texico to the aforementioned 18-run mark. In all, Texico nearly batted around three times, as the 24 at-bat half-inning took 38 minutes to complete.

"We've had a lot of ups and downs. Our core men have managed to stay together. We're a very young team, so we kind of expected something of this nature," Thunderbirds coach Briley Haskie explained. "(Texico has) very good hitters up and down, 1 through 9. Solid defense, well-coached, and overall, they are the team to beat."

On the mound, Dalton Thatcher struck out eight of the nine Thunderbirds (7-15) he faced in three innings of work, giving up just a second-inning single. Luke Phipps, meanwhile, finished up the final two innings by impressing with his fastball, striking out all six batters he faced, including a nine-pitch fourth inning.

For Ty Thatcher and company, it appears that the Wolverines are poised to make another deep tournament run, as they look to defend their 3A crown. They'll face No. 9 Laguna Acoma next Wednesday at 10 a.m., after the Hawks took down No. 8 McCurdy, 15-11 on Wednesday afternoon.

Kevin Wilson

Texico senior catcher Brock Thompson, after realizing he wouldn't be able to run down Zuni leadoff hitter Dominic Yuselew, makes the easy throw to first for the out. Yuselew took off for first base after Thompson dropped the pitch on the swinging third strike.

The Hawks scored one of two first-round upsets. The other came from No. 10 Tucumcari, which beat No. 7 Raton, 10-3. The six top seeds — Texico, Estancia, Santa Rosa, Capitan, Eunice and Dexter — all advanced.

While Thatcher says that there are some "little things" that his team has worked to improve on throughout the year, the key to winning it all again is continued success on the mound.

"Through the course of the year, we're constantly working to build a little deeper staff," Thatcher said. "We're fortunate enough to have four, five, six arms that really can come in there and compete for us. Very few teams out there have that, so we just need to keep those pitchers throwing the ball well and continue to work.

"Our pitchers are doing a tremendous job, and we haven't had to play a ton of defense. But they can play great defense, so keeping them going, defensively, and keeping them to learn how to have quality at-bats (is key)."


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