The Lordsburg Mavericks defeated the Tucumcari Rattlers 15-14 in the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday to end Tucumcari’s hopes of a state baseball championship in Albuquerque.
The Rattler hitters displayed a knack for big hits at the right moments, but the solid hitting was not enough to make up for several crucial fielding errors on the defensive end that kept Lordsburg in the game. Still, heading into the bottom of the eighth inning at the Rio Rancho field, the game was tied and the Rattlers had a chance to shut the Mavericks down. Lordsburg loaded up the bases, however, and then a Maverick hit the ball through a gap to score the winning run.
In the top of the fourth inning, with the Rattlers trailing 8-5, Assistant Coach Eddie Encinias noted what the Rattlers had to do to stay in the game.
“Matt Braziel is not doing a bad job pitching, but we’ve got four errors already,” said Encinias. “We are going to have to hit the ball better than Lordsburg. We knew coming in that they were a hitting ball club.” While it was true that Lordsburg hitters showed up to play, the Rattler hitters were with them every step of the way. Three Rattlers hit home runs. Joe Hurley homered, as did Ray Johnson and John Sewell.
Tim Roybal almost became the game’s hero twice during the afternoon. Roybal hit a three run RBI double in the top of the sixth inning. That put the Rattlers up 10-8, but Lordsburg stormed back in the bottom of the inning to go up 13-10.
Roybal gave the Rattlers a chance to win again when he hit a two run RBI double in the top of the seventh inning to put the Rattlers ahead 14-13. Lordsburg came back to tie, however, and eventually win. It was Tucumcari High School’s first trip to the state tournament, and the Rattlers proved they had a right to be there.
Rattler Coach Mike Russell said he was a believer from the beginning. “Believe it or not, I knew at the beginning of the season that we could go anywhere,” said Russell. “Even when we were 2-7, I knew we could do well. We became an offensive juggernaut at times this season.” When Lordsburg scored their winning run, some Rattler fielders fell to the ground in disbelief. A little later, in the dugout, the Rattlers’ heads were down, but no tears were shed. Coach Russell said his players gave all their heart. “They left it all out on that field,” he said.
Runs Hits Errors
Tcum 14 15 6
Ldsbg 15 16 4