Rattlers sweep Bronchos

William Thompson

• Game 1
Tucumcari High School’s varsity baseball team dispatched Grady 12-4 Tuesday afternoon at home. Matt Braziel was on the mound for the Rattlers. At times he appeared to waver, but he wound up allowing only four hits in the game.

Rattler Coach Mike Russell praised Braziel once again this season. “Matt just pitched an excellent game, “ said Russell. “Our team was a little rusty early on from the long layoff, but we began to focus and came back to win.”

The Bronchos went up 2-0 in the top of the first inning, but Tucumcari’s Drew White hit a 2-RBI double and the Rattlers went up 3-2 and never trailed the rest of the way. It was three up, three down for Grady in the second and third innings as Braziel found his form. Rattler Dustin Russell hit a 2-RBI double in the bottom of the third as Tucumcari took control of the game., going up 5-2. The Rattlers added five more runs in the sixth inning off hits by Braziel and Levi Montano. The Grady fielders made a number of bad throws and Tucumcari runners were allowed to make it to home plate standing up.

Coach Russell said he was glad to see his freshmen players hit well. “Drew White hit a great shot in the first inning to get us back in the game,” said Russell. “Even my son Dustin hit well again.”
Runs Hits Errors
Tcum 12 15 5
Grady 4 4 5

• Game 2
The Rattlers won 11-0 in the second game, but for the first three innings, one could not know that a blowout would ensue. The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning when the Tucumcari batters found a way to end a three-inning slump.

Coach Russell explained why he thought the Rattler batters took so long to get in the swing. “During the first game, we faced a fast pitcher. In the second game, their pitcher was pitching slower,” said Russell. “The slower pitches were throwing our batters’ timing off. Their hands were getting ahead of their swing, thus a lot of pop-ups and strikeouts.”

When the Rattler hitters finally got their timing down, they made up for lost time. Josh Hurley started off the fourth inning with a 2-RBI double. Levi Montano quickly added another RBI. Then John Sewell hit for an RBI, and Matt Braziel followed with a 2-RBI double. It was a nine-run fourth inning for the Rattlers. John Sewell pitched a one-hitter. He was also key in setting up a double play. Senior Ray Johnson returned to the lineup after a serious knee injury from the basketball season. Johnson went 2 for 3. Assistant Coach Eddie Encinias said Johnson is a true baseball player.

“Ray Johnson is an all-around ballplayer,” said Encinias. “We are cautious with him right now because of his knee, but I think he will be our ace in the hole for pitching as time goes on.”
Runs Hits Errors
Tcum 11 14 0
Grady 0 1 3