By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
LOS LUNAS — After staging a comeback from 12 runs down to win in Wednesday’s opening round of the Class 2A state baseball tournament, no one would blame Lordsburg for being a little nervous in the semifinals — even with a nine-run lead.
Sure enough, Texico made the Mavericks go to the wire Thursday night before Lordsburg advanced to the finals by edging the Wolverines 12-11.
In the bottom of the seventh, Texico had runners on second and third — the potential tying and winning runs — when Mavericks relief pitcher Justin Green finally induced a groundout to end the game.
“My knees are shaking a little right now, but we pulled it out,” said Lordsburg coach Bill Mendoza, whose squad held a 12-3 lead after batting in the top of the fourth.
Lordsburg (16-12) meets top-seeded Estancia, a 10-3 winner Thursday over Eunice, in today’s noon championship game at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque.
The Mavericks seemed to blow the game open in the third by scoring 10 runs. The rally included a grand slam from Scott Esquivel and RBI doubles from Miguel Estrada and Green.
Texico helped Lordsburg’s cause by committing a pair of errors as well as walking two batters and hitting another.
“We had a couple of those earlier in the year, but we had gotten kind of away from those,” said Texico coach Richard Luscombe of the big inning that effectively sealed his team’s fate. “We just really lost our composure, didn’t hit the spots where we needed to pitching-wise, and they (Mavericks) did a good job of hitting the ball.”
With eight runs over the last three innings, Texico gradually closed the gap.
“We kept having opportunities and kept making the best of them, but we just dug ourselves to big a hole in the third inning,” Luscombe said. “We kind of worked so hard to get out of it and we just kind of ran out of opportunities.”
In a three-run fifth, Matt Marez singled in one run while senior Michael Reid drew a bases-loaded walk to send in another.
In the next inning, Marez hit a two-run double to make it 12-8. With one on and two outs, Texico’s seventh didn’t seem to offer much promise until an error and Jesse Walthers’ single loaded the bases.
Courtland Luscombe was hit by a pitch to score one run and Brett Anderson followed with a two-run single to put the Wolverines within run.
Marez hit a soft grounder to first as the game came to an end.
Theo Marez, Matt’s older brother and one of only two seniors in the starting lineup, had a pair of doubles in the game for the Wolverines.
“Other games in the season, we’d be down 10-0, stuff like that, and we’d come out of it,” Theo Marez said. “There’s no team I know of that has a bigger heart than this one.”