CAPITAN – After sweeping Eunice to win the District 4-3A title a week before, it stands to reason that the Capitan Tiger baseball team came into their first round State game against Clayton, May 2, on a high.
The intensity was obvious from the start, as the Tigers rode that wave to a 16-1 victory at Alpine Field.
“We had a lot of confidence coming in, especially after a district championship,” said Capitan starter Price Bowen, who struck out eight in four innings of work to get the victory. “We didn’t want to take this game lightly and we came out with everything we had.”
Bowen was simply overpowering for Capitan (13-7), striking out the side twice and getting two much-needed Ks after allowing a run in the top of a shaky fourth inning.
After the Tigers tacked on five more runs in the bottom of the inning, Garrison Weems came on to close out the game.
The pair held Clayton (6-16) to zero hits, the one run coming on two walks and a throwing error.
“Getting Garrison in to pitch was important,” said Garrison’s father and coach, James Weems. “We’ve got a few other kids that can throw, and it’s a matter of having an opportunity like today to get that experience.
“Last year, we didn’t have Brenden (Usrey) with a broken hand, and if we had him, things might have been a little different last year,” he added, referring to the Tigers’ runner-up season last year. “Right now, everyone is healthy, and we’ll do what we have to do and hopefully we’ll make the right decisions and put the guys we have to on the mound.”
At the plate, Capitan was solid, stringing together 15 hits off Yellowjacket pitcher Eric Schroeder. Mostly, the Tigers doubled them to death, racking up five two-baggers.
Jacob Smith and Garrison Weems had the best days hitting with three hits and three runs batted in each.
“In this situation, we have to do our thing, and the kids did it,” Weems said. “Price threw great, the kids hit the ball, they did what they had to do.”
With Clayton out of the way, the Tigers have a week to prepare for the State quarterfinals, May 9, at 1 p.m. at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho.
They will be playing a familiar opponent.
Eunice beat Rehoboth 6-0 in their first-round game.
“We know what we can do against those guys,” Weems said of the Cardinals. “We just have to go up there and compete.”