The Estancia Bears used solid pitching to keep the Tucumcari High School baseball team from coming back to win as the Rattlers went down in defeat 13-8 Wednesday at home in the Region B championship game.
The Rattlers received a runner-up trophy after the game, and will still be going to Albuquerque to play Lordsburg next Thursday at 2 p.m. for a chance to make it to the state semi-finals. Rattler Coach Mike Russell said the Region B runner-up trophy is nothing to smirk at. “This trophy, as far as I know, will be the first piece of hardware a baseball team has ever been able to put in the trophy case at Tucumcari High School.” he said.
Russell alluded to the Rattlers’ victory over Mora last Tuesday as a possible reason as to why the Rattlers came up short against Estancia. “It’s not uncommon to have a letdown after a big win,” said Russell. “You see that in the pros. A team wins a big game and they come out flat for the next game.” There were moments when the Rattlers had bursts of energy, such as when pitcher John Sewell retired the side in the top of the second inning or when Ray Johnson hit a solo homer in the bottom of the second inning, but for the most part the Rattlers seemed flat, not as spirited as in the game against Mora.
Estancia scored six runs in the top of the seventh inning to further dispirit the Tucumcari squad. The Rattlers scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh, but still lost by five runs. The players were not in a cheerful mood after the game even with the runner-up trophy and the knowledge that they are going to the state tournament for the first time in their lives. Coach Russell said the team will have to shrug off the loss and begin preparations for Albuquerque immediately.
“Sometimes after a tough loss you just have to sleep on it and come back fresh the next day,” he said. Russell told his players after the game, “You gotta keep your head up when you get to this level, you can’t get down every time you make a mistake.” Should the Rattlers beat Lordsburg next Thursday, they would then play either Santa Fe Indian or Sandia Prep in a semi-final game Friday. Thursday’s and Friday’s games will be played at Rio Rancho High School.
The championship game will be played Saturday at 8 a.m. in Isotopes Park.
Runs Hits Errors
Tcum 8 8 8
Esta 13 12 6