RIO RANCHO – After a close loss to the North on day one at this year’s New Mexico High School Coaches Association’s All-Star weekend, the South 4A/1A baseball team decided enough was enough.
On June 10, they made short work of the North All-Stars with 19-2 and 9-5 victories to win the series at Rio Rancho High School.
For four Lincoln County graduates, this series was the opportunity of a lifetime.
“It was an amazing experience, all these guys are amazing,” said Capitan graduate Brontson Leach. “It’s also neat to have a baseball experience that’s fun and not have anything serious to worry about. It was a great experience I’d never had before.”
“It was a great change of pace, I don’t enjoy losing,” said Cisco Mayville, whose Ruidoso team lost to eventual Class 4A State champion Portales on this same Rio Rancho field during the playoffs two weeks before. “It was fun to play with all these fantastic athletes. It was a great weekend.”
South hitting wasn’t up to par on Friday in the first game, which ended with the North winning 3-2. But on Saturday, hitting was all the South did.
They started with three runs in the bottom of the first and it was off to the races. Dirty South had a 19-0 lead before the North was finally able to push a run across in the top of the sixth.
Andru Sanchez of Cobre and Ruidoso’s Kyler Woodul had the best hitting, each going 2-for-2 and batting in a pair. Sanchez’ hits were particularly damaging – a double and a triple.
Pitching-wise, Cobre’s James Ramos came up with the win, allowing just two hits and no runs in five innings.
The second game of the day – and final game of the series – saw the last appearance of the Alex Bates-Woodul battery, as Woodul caught his Ruidoso teammate one last time.
“We had some sour memories here,” said Bates, referring to that loss to Portales. “But we were able to finish it off very nice now.”
Bates may have struggled a bit in his final appearance as a high school player on the mound, allowing numerous walks and wild pitches.
But he allowed only one run through four innings before being relieved. That gave the South all the padding it needed to hold off a late charge by the North.
Before the time the North had scored its five runs, the South had a 6-1 lead, punctuated by a double from Woodul.
“this was the best day ever. We couldn’t have asked for more,” Woodul said. “It was the perfect way for me and Alex to end our careers together.”
The baseball careers of Woodul, Mayville and Leach are over, but Bates is headed to University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to play at the next level.
Because this was their last high school hurrah, South coach Charlie Ward of NMMI did everything he could to make the weekend special for these young men.
“Three-game series, the goal is to win, but there’s also a chance to give everyone an equal chance to play, because they’re all All-Stars,” Ward said. “The Ruidoso players were saying to each other this was the most fun they’d ever had playing baseball. That made my day, because that meant we did our job to give them great memories.”