Clayton blanks Rattlers in District 3 final: Rattlers still have a shot at state tournament

By William Thompson: Quay County Sun

The Tucumcari High School baseball team had only one hit against the Clayton Yellow Jackets Wednesday as Clayton won the District Three final at Rattler Field, 1-0.

The Rattlers will play at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Rattler Field against the winner of the Pecos – Navajo Prep game. Pecos and Navajo Prep will play at noon Tuesday. If the Rattlers win they will earn a spot in the state tournament May 16-18 in Albuquerque.

Rattler players and coaches wondered at the Rattlers’ quiet bats against Clayton, a team they’ve beaten earlier in the season. Coach Tony Alarcon offered his analysis.

“We just had flat bats,” Alarcon said. “I thought our guys were a little impatient at bat.”

Rattler pitcher Matt Braziel pitched one of his best games ever, striking out 16 batters. In the second and third innings, Braziel struck out six batters in a row.

Braziel was working on a shutout, but the Yellow Jackets scored a run on a Rattler infield error in the top of the sixth inning. Braziel, along with his teammates, struggled at the plate.

“We just couldn’t hit the ball,” Braziel said. “I don’t know, we just couldn’t see the ball well.”

As for next week’s game, Braziel said there isn’t too much pressure.

“We’ve just got to play like it’s another game,” he said.
Wednesday’s game was the only time this season the Rattlers could not produce a rally. Rattler batters struck out often and players who made contact popped the ball up or hit directly to Clayton infielders who made sharp throws to first base for the outs.

Coach Alarcon said he’s happy with the chance to play either Pecos or Navajo Prep for a spot in the state tournament.

“We beat Pecos 13-0 earlier in the season and I think we can beat Navajo Prep, “ he said. “We didn’t hit the ball today and that’s all there is to it. We just have to get it done.”