Wins set up Demons-Horsemen clash

March 22, 2019

The matchup everyone wants to see will take place a day early, but it will definitely happen.

Friday’s semifinal round of the Jim Pierce Memorial Tournament at St. Michael’s will feature the host Horsemen against Santa Fe High.

At least one of those baseball teams can only hope that getting to Saturday’s championship game will be a little more challenging than reaching Friday’s semis.

St. Michael’s throttled Wingate, 30-3, in Thursday morning’s first round while the defending tournament champion Demons rallied in the final inning to beat Sandia Prep, 8-5. The Horsemen and Demons will meet for a bid in the tournament finals in Friday’s 4 p.m. contest, the last of the day.

The other semifinal has Bernalillo, which has already beaten Santa Fe High twice and St. Michael’s once, taking on Portales at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

To say St. Michael’s had it easy in its tournament debut would be an insult to everything easy that came before it. The Horsemen scored six runs in the first inning and three more in the second. It got completely out of hand with a 14-run third inning in which they had nine hits and batted around twice.

The game was halted after Wingate batted in the top of the fifth.

St. Michael’s (3-3) had 20 hits but got plenty of help from the Bears in the form of 10 errors, three walks and six hit batsmen. Horsemen leadoff hitter Marcos Leyba reached base all six times he came to the plate, finishing 3-for-5 with three runs scored while reaching on two errors and a walk. Derek Martinez reached in five of his six appearances.

It followed a similar story up and down the lineup as even subs off the bench got plenty of action running around between the bags.

“Their pitcher wasn’t throwing at the speed we’d seen in a lot of other pitchers we’d seen in some of our other games so our guys were able to get the bat on the ball a little bit,” said St. Michael’s head coach Augie Ruiz.

Santa Fe High (5-4) didn’t have it quite so easy in its opening round game. Trailing Sandia Prep 5-1 after five innings, the Demons got one back in the top of the sixth and then plated half a dozen in their final at-bat in the seventh.

The rally started with Scott Laur leading off the seventh with a single and Christopher Graham getting hit by a pitch. Each of the next four batters reached and all four eventually scored; Manny Martinez brought home what proved to be the winning run after he was hit by a pitch and worked his way around on a bases-clearing triple by Kevin Crawford.

Martinez started on the mound and tossed over 90 pitches to improve his record to 3-1. The Demons have won three straight, outscoring their opponents 32-9 in that stretch.

Portales beat Cobre 10-9 in Thursday’s late quarterfinal, giving the Rams (1-2) their first win of the year. They’ll face Bernalillo, a 4-2 winner over Raton.