In a must-win game, the Tucumcari varsity baseball team defeated the Clayton Yellow Jackets 4-1 Tuesday at home to advance to a tournament game at Estancia today.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning. Freshman Drew White started a Rattler rally with a well-hit single. Ray Johnson followed with a single and the Clayton coach decided to walk Tim Roybal. With the bases loaded, Freshman Lamar French came to bat. French had played in only a few games this season, and the Clayton coach must have been aware of that fact when he decided to load up the bases for French. French responded with a deep single that scored two Rattler runs, giving the hometown team the momentum it needed to go on to win.
Matt Braziel pitched the entire game for Tucumcari, allowing only one run in the top of the seventh inning. Rattler Coach Mike Russell could not mask his delight over his team’s clutch victory. “The guys got themselves ready to play today,” said Russell. “We played through a couple of mistakes and Lamar French came up with two big RBI’s. It’s a really good feeling when your guys are ready to play.”
The Rattler players were all business in the dugout during the game. Gone was the usual banter among the players. Each player offered advice to other teammates. Each player seemed focused on the task at hand. The Rattlers appeared sharper than usual on the defensive end. Ray Johnson, still hampered by a knee injury, turned a sharp double play from his position at second base.
The Rattler outfielders caught more fly balls than usual. In the top of the seventh inning. A.J. Molinas, playing third base, leapt up to catch a solidly hit ball that would have given the Clayton batter extra bases if it had made it into the outfield. Coach Russell said his team is not intimidated by the Estancia Bears, a team that is undefeated in district play. “Each time we played Estancia, we got a little closer this season,” said Russell. “Our guys know we should have won that third game against Estancia.”
Assistant Coach Eddie Encinias told his team to savor the victory over Clayton, on one condition. Encinias told the Rattlers, ”Enjoy it for the moment, guys, but tomorrow get focused to play Estancia.”
Runs Hits Errors
Tcum 4 9 3
Clayt 1 7 2