Nearly 100 Rattler supporters turned out to see the Tucumcari High School baseball team defeat the Mora Rangers 6-5 to advance to the state tournament in Albuquerque next week.
Joseph Hurley hit the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the seventh inning. Hurley had been in a hitter’s slump in recent games, but he was focused on the task at hand as he put the past behind him. “It feels great,” said Hurley. “I was just wanting to bring Tim Roybal home from third base.”
Rattler Coach Mike Russell summed up his feelings immediately after the victory. “I’m on cloud nine,” said Russell. “I can hardly breathe.” The game was tied 5-5 from the top of the fourth inning until the bottom of the seventh. The Rattler defenders had given up three runs to Mora in the top of the fourth inning. For awhile it seemed that Rattler errors would prove their undoing.
Matt Braziel, the starting pitcher, began to pitch with a little more speed and accuracy in the next three innings. He held Mora scoreless the rest of the way. After the game, he said that he had to focus on the batters. “I was a little nervous when we started getting those errors,” said Braziel. “I decided to concentrate on just throwing strikes. I was throwing a little harder later in the game.” The Rattler hitters did well throughout the game, but several times runners were stranded. Tucumcari had a chance to take control of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. A.J. Molinas singled and Drew White followed with a double, but the Mora fielders made good plays to keep the Rattlers from going ahead.
It was a quick seventh inning for Mora batters as Tucumcari came up to bat in the bottom of the inning with a chance to hit their way to Albuquerque. Tim Roybal was on third when Hurley came to bat. Rattler Assistant Coach Eddie Encinias hollered from his position near first base,” Come on Joe Hurley, you gotta be a hero!” Hurley responded with a deeply hit ball between right and center field that drove in the winning run. Tucumcari will play Estancia this afternoon for a chance to win the Region B Championship, thus ensuring them of a higher seed in the state tournament.
Even if the Rattlers lose today against Estancia, they are still guaranteed a spot in Albuquerque and a chance to accomplish something greater.
Runs Hits Errors
Tcum 6 12 5
Mora 5 6 4