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

Four-gone conclusion: Texico again wins state baseball

 

May 19, 2019

Darcy Rohrbach

Texico senior Dalton Thatcher hits a chopper in Saturday's Class 2A baseball championship at the University of New Mexico. Thatcher went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and three runs scored in Texico's 13-3 win over Estancia.

By Peter Stein

STAFF WRITER

[email protected]

ALBUQUERQUE - 2A, 3A, whatever. Texico's baseball team will take it, as long as it has an 'A' in it and means the Wolverines get to be state champions.

After winning three consecutive state 3A titles through last season, Texico won the 2A crown on Saturday morning, beating Estancia 13-3 in the full seven innings with a Grade 'A' performance at the University of New Mexico's Santa Ana Star Field.

Four years. Four straight state championships. And in earning this one, Texico bagged its benchmark 20th win of the season (20-5 final record) in the process. That's an 'A'-plus experience for the Wolverines.

"It hasn't really sunk in," Texico head coach Ty Thatcher said. "It was a lot closer game than it looked. We got out of some situations, made some key outs. That makes it exhilarating. It's a great game, love coaching these kids."

For Texico's five exiting seniors - Cole Rohrbach, Dalton Thatcher, Robin Winton, Isaac Ortiz and Josh Douma - it was great to go out on top.

"That's what I've always wanted," Dalton Thatcher said. "It's been a dream come true."

"That is what everybody goes for," Rohrbach said. "It's the best feeling in the world."

A pretty good feeling for the younger players, too. Especially sophomore Seth Griego, Saturday's winning pitcher.

"It's a great feeling. I'm glad I had a great defense behind me," the southpaw Griego said as he iced his pitching arm. "I like playing with these guys and I'm going to miss the seniors."

It was Estancia that Texico beat to win last year's third straight 3A title, getting that one done up the road at Isotopes Park. Each team was realigned into 2A last offseason and split during this year's regular season, just like last year.

The Bears came into Saturday's game having already won their 20th against just five losses, but couldn't overcome some rough innings to get the all-important 21st victory.

"Well, it's a tough team to beat," Estancia head coach Hamilton Doyle said. "But our kids have been fighting back. We've been against odds all year, we've been short of people. And these guys, I couldn't be more proud of them."

Top-seeded Texico jumped ahead quickly on third-seeded Estancia. Designated as the away team at neutral Santa Ana Star Field, the Wolverines led off the top of the first inning with a walk drawn by Freddy Davalos, followed by a Dalton Thatcher single. An out later, Luke Phipps smacked a single to left field, scoring Davalos to make it a 1-0 game. Thatcher took third base on the play, beating a throw there, and while that was happening on the left side of the infield, Phipps hustled into second base.

With Winton batting, Thatcher scored on a wild pitch and Texico went up 2-0.

Winton eventually walked, but Estancia escaped when Griego looped out and Winton was doubled up off first base.

Drayton Oberg led off the bottom of the first inning by golfing a 3-2 pitch into right field for a single, and with Josh Thomas batting, Oberg took second base on a wild pitch. Thomas flied out, not deep enough to advance Oberg, but Cruz Moreno's fly out did move Oberg over to third. And when Preston Cantu reached on an error, Oberg scored, narrowing Estancia's deficit to just 2-1.

Texico went down 1-2-3 in the top of the second inning, but had a big third. Freddy Davalos led off by reaching on an error, and went to second base on a wild pitch. An out later, Rohrbach walked, and both runners came home when Phipps tripled to make it 4-1. A Winton sacrifice fly soon brought Phipps home with Texico's fifth run.

Griego walked and was replaced by courtesy runner Josh Myers, followed by a David Davalos triple to deep left center that gave the Wolverines a 6-1 advantage.

Estancia, though, was anything but deflated in the bottom of the third inning, slicing into Texico's lead with an RBI double from Moreno and an RBI single by Cantu.

Estancia threatened to inch closer in the bottom of the fourth, after Andrew Lujan reached on an infield single with one out, then stole second base and took third on a passed ball with two outs. Griego, though, rang up a strikeout to strand Lujan.

"Seth has been solid all year," Ty Thatcher said. "He was extremely nervous and not his normal self (on Saturday). But he competed ... made some key pitches."

And Texico fed off that by rolling into the top of the fifth inning, getting an RBI ground-rule double from Griego and an RBI single from Ortiz to make it an 8-3 game. The bases were eventually loaded, but Estancia avoided further damage when the catcher Thomas crashed into Texico's dugout fence to catch a pop foul that brought the half-inning to a halt.

The Wolverines had some good defense of their own, like an over-the-shoulder, off-balance running catch by Rohrbach in shallow right that squelched an Estancia rally in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Darcy Rohrbach

Saturday's 13-3 win over Estancia gave Texico its fourth-consecutive state baseball title and its fifth in school history.

After Texico stretched its lead to 9-3 by scoring on an error in the top of the sixth, Estancia loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of that inning, chasing Griego. Phipps, though, came on and delivered his team from the jam with no runs crossing, by recording a strikeout, inducing a fly out that was too shallow for a tag-up, and getting Thomas to hit a tapper in front of home plate that Texico catcher David Davalos grabbed before tagging home for the force out.

A clutch moment indeed for the junior Phipps.

"I was glad that I made the decision of pulling him from yesterday's game (Texico's 21-2 semifinal win over Capitan at Rio Rancho), allowing him to pitch today," Ty Thatcher said.

Once again, strong pitching gave the Wolverines momentum. This time they went on to add four more runs in the top of the seventh inning. A 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh for Phipps sealed Texico's fourth consecutive state title, one as rewarding as any of them.

"There's a lot of work that nobody sees," Ty Thatcher said. "It was nice to win the state tournament as the No. 1 seed."

 
 

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