RUIDOSO – When Alex Bates went to the plate and promptly delivered a triple for Ruidoso, May 5, it looked as though the rout would be on early in the Warriors’ Class 4A State playoff game against Shiprock.
But Bates was only able to score on a groundout by Kyler Woodul, and Ruidoso held a slim 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third.
That’s when the Warriors let loose with four runs on five hits, and Ruidoso eventually went on to a 10-2 victory in the best-of-three series.
A win tomorrow in the first game of a possible doubleheader, starting at 11 a.m., would send Ruidoso to the quarterfinals, to be played at Rio Rancho High School on May 11.
Bates had a terrific day at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a triple, an RBI and two runs scored.
“We just have to simplify the game and sit on some pitches,” Bates said. “It’s about not overdoing ourselves. We just have to play our game. We have a lineup where everyone produces. There’s not an easy out.”
Bates wasn’t called on to pitch because of a burst blood vessel in his hand, but coach Gilbert Alvarado didn’t need to bring in anyone to spell starter Mason Taylor.
“He came in after the sixth and said ‘coach, I can finish it out,” Alvarado said. “I told him, ‘good, because you are.’”
Taylor pitched a complete game victory, striking out eight in seven innings.
His lone mistake was a hanging curve ball – he had his curve doing nasty things to Shiprock hitters all day – which Cameron Begay hammered over the left field fence in the fifth inning for a two-run homer.
But that was one of only four hits the Chieftains (15-11) could muster.
Ruidoso (13-10-1) was getting hits left and right, meanwhile, putting up crooked numbers in the third, fourth and sixth innings.
In fact, the only thing that kept the Warriors from ending things on the 10-run rule was Begay’s home run.
“Mason had everything going well today, his two-seamer, his four-seamer, his changeup was good early and his curve ball was consistent,” Alvarado said. “He was working more to pitch, not trying to strike everybody out.”
Grady Woodul takes the mound for the Warriors tomorrow morning. With a win, Ruidoso’s next opponent might very well be District 4-4A opponent Portales, seeded No. 2 in the playoffs and ranked higher than the Warriors even though Ruidoso won two out of three against the Rams.
Bates said it doesn’t really matter who his team faces from here on out.
“We know what needs to be done and everyone picks each other up,” Bates said. “We just had our minds focused on the game today, and we did very well.”