Gateway dethrones Texico in 1A baseball

Gateway Christian first baseman Antonio Oaxaca tags Texico’s Theo Marez as he tries to get back to the bag during Friday’s Class 1A state baseball championship game in Texico. (Albuquerque Journal photo: Jim Thompson)

Staff and wire reports

ALBUQUERQUE — This time, the Class 1A championship baseball game with the football score went Gateway Christian’s way.

The Roswell-based Warriors erupted for five runs in the top of the seventh, and sophomore left-hander Joe Camp finished it off by striking out the side in the bottom of the inning for a 17-13 win over defending champion Texico on Friday morning at Isotopes Stadium.

Camp, who pitched a two-hit shutout in Gateway’s 5-0 win over Cimarron in Thursday’s semifinals, went 3 1/3 innings in relief on Friday in a seesaw game during which the teams combined for 34 hits, 11 errors, six wild pitches and 10 walks.

“He had just enough at the end to shut them down,” said Gateway coach Rick Rapp, who considered lifting Camp before the bottom of the seventh. “He pitched seven innings (Thursday) and had a great game.

“We came into this tournament not saving anything. We said if we got (to the finals), whoever could pitch was going to do it. He just said, ‘Give me the ball.’”

Texico (14-8), hard-hit by graduation after storming to a 21-10 win over Gateway in last year’s championship, got within three outs of a repeat and took a 13-12 lead into the final frame after scoring twice in the sixth.

Aaron Vaughan, who relieved starter Theo Marez in the fifth, walked the first two hitters in the seventh, then hit Daniel Taschner to load the bases. Alex Roberson’s grounder found a hole between first and second to drive in two runs, and Raymond Vaz followed with another two-run single.

Marez then returned to the mound for Texico and Camp, who finished with four hits and three RBIs, singled to drive in Vaz.

“We just made some really, really bad errors at crucial times,” Texico coach Richard Luscombe said. “They (Warriors) hit the ball really well today. We watched them in the two games before and they didn’t hit the ball well at all.”

Down 3-0, the Wolverines went in front in the bottom of the third on a two-run single by Zac Morgan, who finished 5-for-5, and the first of Zane Anderson’s two-run doubles. Vaughan then capped a four-run fourth with a three-run, inside-the-park homer for an 8-3 Texico lead.

Gateway (22-5) quickly pulled even, though, with five runs in the fifth on four hits, an error and two wild pitches.

Anderson’s second two-run double helped Texico open an 11-8 lead in the bottom of the inning. Gateway then scored four times in the sixth to edge back in front.

Vaughan finished 3-for-4 at the plate and drove in five runs, including one on a single and another on a double.

Luscombe said the Wolverines, who lose four seniors — Vaughan, Morgan, Anderson and Isaac Zarate — to graduation, came a long way this season.

“There’s no doubt I was happy with them,” he said of the team’s season. “I’m just frustrated for the kids because at one time I thought we had control of the game.

“We have some really good, young kids coming up. Hopefully, by the end of the year we’ll be pretty good.”