Rattlers take district championships

William Thompson

The Tucumcari High School baseball team scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning to defeat a tough Estancia team 11-10 to win the District 4 Class A/AA baseball title. Rattler Coach Mike Russell said it seemed like a World Series victory to his players.

“The guys were hugging each other and celebrating after that last strikeout,” said Russell. “I don’t know if a Tucumcari baseball team has ever won a district title before.” Estancia had been undefeated in district competition and played well throughout the game. The Bears had a 4-0 lead heading into the fourth inning.

Russell said the Tucumcari fielders were having trouble seeing the ball due to the dusty, windy conditions at Estancia’s field. The Rattler hitters got on track in the fourth inning. John Sewell, Matt Braziel and A.J. Molinas each got hits in the inning. Drew White drove two runners home with a double and Ray Johnson hit an RBI double to pull Tucumcari within one run of Estancia.

Estancia went ahead 7-3 later in the inning. The Rattlers scored four runs in the fifth inning to tie the game at 7-7. Then Estancia scored three more to go ahead 10-7. Down by three runs with the district championship on the line, the Rattlers took control in the top of the sixth inning. Joseph Hurley walked and Freshman Lamar French singled. Then Levi Montano stepped up to the plate and hit a long ball for a triple, driving in two runs. John Sewell hit another RBI and Matt Braziel followed with yet another RBI as the Rattlers went ahead 11-10.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Sewell came in to pitch for Ray Johnson. Sewell prevented the Bears from doing any further damage. His last pitch of the game was a called strike. Coach Russell said Sewell was sharp despite the pressure of holding on to a slim one-run lead in the championship game. “John Sewell had a live arm in the last two innings,” he said. “That last pitch he threw was right there.” The Rattlers will play another good team, Mora, Tuesday at home. The regional meeting is another must-win game for Tucumcari.

Coach Russell knows that his team has the ability to score on any team. “We will probably be facing Mora’s best pitcher,” said Russell. “Our batters may not hit a good pitcher the first time around, but the second and third time they come up to bat, they can hit just about anybody.”

Runs Hits Errors
Tcum 11 11 9
Estan 10 12 6