Ram baseball reaches 4A semis


May 11, 2018

RIO RANCHO - The Portales Rams found trouble all day in their Class 4A quarterfinal against Santa Fe Indian.

Fortunately for the defending 4A champion Rams, they escaped it for the most part and created just enough havoc of their own to eke out a 4-3 victory Thursday at Rio Rancho High School.

The Rams (19-10) move on to a 4 p.m. Friday semifinal at the University of New Mexico against top-seeded Hope Christian, which defeated Cobre 15-1 in Thursday's late semifinal.

Silver and Bernalillo will meet in a 10 a.m. semifinal. The Colts defeated St. Michael's 6-4, while the Spartans were 6-2 winners over Robertson.

Portales went as senior Josiah Lucero went Thursday, with plenty of ups and downs. On the mound, Lucero was looking at not making it out of the first inning after walking the first three Braves he faced. With Damian Belden warming up in the bullpen, Lucero recovered for a run-scoring grounder, a pop fly and a comebacker to end the inning and went on to pitch a complete-game five-hitter.

At the plate, Lucero was also opportunistic. He knotted up the score with an RBI groundout of his own in the first, then helped Portales take advantage of an error that kept the fourth inning going with a two-run single.

"In games that are close," Portales coach Dusty Nusser said, "you have to get two-out hits and we had a few that were big for us. Bottom of the seventh, they get a runner at third with two outs and Josiah struck the last guy out. Those are the kinds of high-pressure situations you have to deal with, and we handled that."

The Braves season ended at 17-12. Kurt Candelaria took the hard-luck loss, allowing three runs - two unearned - on five hits.

Speaking before the Hope Christian-Cobre game, Nusser said he knew the Rams would have a difficult matchup no matter who joined them Friday.

"We have to see where everybody's improved, because we all get better over the season," Nusser said prior to the 7 p.m. Huskies-Indians matchup. "We saw Cobre earlier in the season, so it will be interesting to see what they're doing now. We played Hope more recently, but it was early in district play. We'll just have to see what they've done and where we can attack them."


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