ALBUQUERQUE — The Portales Rams, seeded fifth in the Class 3A state baseball tournament, thought they were a better team than fourth seed Bloomfield, and in Wednesday’s quarterfinals, they proved it.
The Rams erased a 7-3 deficit after three innings and rallied for an 8-7 win at La Cueva High School, advancing to a 9 a.m. semifinal on Friday against top-seeded Cobre, a 13-12 winner over Lovington, at UNM Lobo Field.
It’s the second consecutive year the Rams have reached the 3A semifinals.
Senior Mario Salazar went the distance for Portales, allowing seven hits with three walks and 11 strikeouts.
“He didn’t have his best stuff today,” Portales coach Arturo Ontiveros said. “He had to dig deep, and then in the last four innings he shut them down and he did a good job of hitting his spots.”
Senior Phillip Danbom drove in runs in the fifth and sixth innings, while junior catcher Ricky Lovato hit a key two-run double in the sixth as the Rams took their first lead.
“We’re really proud of how our kids responded,” Ontiveros said. “They responded really well. We had some kids that had some nerves and started out tight, but once we settled down in the fourth or fifth inning and actually had a chance to win the game, they responded well.”
Sixth-seeded Sandia Prep faces second-seeded Raton in Friday’s other semifinal. The championship game is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at Isotopes Park.