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

Carlsbad clobbers Clovis in 6A quarters


May 11, 2018

Carlsbad's Tristin Walker gets caught in a first inning rundown between Clovis' Garrett Langrell, left, and Anthony Gonzales.

ALBUQUERQUE - The University of New Mexico's Santa Ana Star Field is an impressive baseball facility, with shiny artificial turf, even major-league-style organ music playing between pitches.

But that's where the pleasant baseball experience ended for fourth-seeded Clovis in Thursday's Class 6A quarterfinal, as the Wildcats ran head-long into a Carlsbad buzzsaw that wailed on the ball from beginning to end and run-ruled the Wildcats 15-1 in five innings.

It was simply a dominant performance by the fifth-seeded Cavemen, who banged out 17 hits, while holding the 'Cats to just two, none through the first 2 1/3 innings. The Wildcats, who allowed seven runs in one game all season - the nightcap of an Apr. 29 doubleheader at La Cueva - allowed seven in Thursday's second inning alone.

As a result, Clovis' promising season ended with a school-record-tying 23 victories, while Carlsbad (23-7) advanced to tonight's 6A semis.

"They came out in the first inning, swung the bat," Clovis coach Richard Cruce said of the Cavemen. "Heck, they swung it for all five innings today. We can't take anything away from them; they did what they were supposed to do - got base hits."

"The kids came out, played hard, played fast, played aggressive, just what we like to do," Carlsbad coach Alan Edmonson said, "and controlled the game from the start."

Thursday's game was surprising, not so much because Carlsbad won, but how the Wildcats lost. Surrendering 17 hits, collecting just a pair of them, committing four errors. All of it was so uncharacteristic of how Clovis had performed in most of its previous 28 games this season.

"It just wasn't our day," Cruce said. "That's baseball."

The heat couldn't be blamed. Temperatures - barely 90 - were not quite as scorching as predicted earlier in the week, and a breeze helped. Besides, the Vegas-bred Connor Langrell (7-1 coming in) was on the mound for Clovis. To him, 90-degree weather is almost like winter.

But unfortunately for the Wildcats, Langrell's first-pitch called strike to open the game was not a sign of things to come. Carlsbad's leadoff batter, Jonah Matthews, battled back from that early 0-1 hole to smack a single on a 2-1 count. Trey Castaneda followed with a single, and took second base on a throw to third that did not stop Matthews from reaching there.

Two batters in and the Cavemen already had runners on second and third with nobody out. Mason Estrada then walked, loading the bases, and Rio Granger unloaded them with a double. He was thrown out trying to stretch for a triple, but had given Carlsbad a 3-0 lead.

That was all the Carlsbad damage in the first inning. But then came that dreaded second, where the Cavemen made the scoring margin a bit more cavernous by sending 12 men to the plate, ringing up seven runs on six hits and capitalizing on two errors.

The inning began with Carlsbad's Jordin Molina going right after a first-pitch fastball from Langrell and swatting it for a single. The Cavemen were ready for Langrell, who had pitched against them in early March.

"They did a good job of getting on Connor early," Cruce said. "They didn't let Connor get ahead much in the count because they jumped on fastballs early and got hits with them. I don't want to say he didn't have his stuff, but it wasn't Connor's day either."

"We had already seen the guy throw earlier in the season," Edmonson said, "so we kind of knew what we were going to get. And that was useful in terms of game-planning all week long."

Colson Faircloth relieved Langrell before Carlsbad's half of the second inning was over, but didn't fare much better. And offensively, the Wildcats didn't have much success against Carlsbad starter T.J. Ruiz. The Cavemen just looked unbeatable on this particular afternoon.

Eric Murray

Joe Gallegos comes home in the third inning to score the Wildcats' only run in a 15-1 defeat.

Fittingly, it was one of the Wildcats' 12 seniors - center fielder Joe Gallegos - who came up with the team's first hit, a one-out, opposite-field triple to right field in the bottom of the third inning. He also had a running, over-the-shoulder catch in deep left-center during the top of the fourth.

Another senior, Sebastian Nunez, had Clovis' other hit - a single to lead off the fifth.

Senior catcher Jace Piepkorn threw out two Carlsbad runners trying to swipe second. Senior E.J. Gonzales was the last player to bat.

Piepkorn, Joe Gallegos, Langrell, Faircloth, Nunez, Gonzales, Cam Kuykendall, Tomas Gallegos, Cadyn Campbell, Ricky Ulses, Kayden Shober and Brendan Sambrano will all be missed.

"They're close, we're close. It's a tight family," Cruce said. "I'm going to miss seeing them every day. They're part of my family."


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