By William Thompson: Quay County Sun
The Tucumcari High School baseball team (13-7) faces the Tularosa Wildcats (16-5) at 1 p.m. Monday in the first round of the state tournament at La Cueva High School in Albuquerque.
The two teams have a couple of shared opponents in Estancia and Lordsburg.
The Rattlers lost to Lordsburg last year in the first round of the state tournament. Tularosa beat Lordsburg 9-8 in the District 5 final this season.
The Wildcats’ coach, Eric Gutierrez said he’s got a number of three-year starters on his team.
“We also have three seniors, Jude Otero, Nash Kowatch and Aaron Marrujo. They are quality ball players,” Gutierrez said. “Our strength is our speed and our defense. We also have three quality pitchers.”
Gutierrez said his team can hit well throughout the batting order, much like the Rattlers. He made a trip to Tucumcari on Tuesday to watch the Rattlers defeat Navajo Prep 15-0.
“They (the Rattlers) are a solid ball club. I was really impressed with the pitcher, Matt Braziel,” said Gutierrez. “Braziel threw a lot of strikes and I’ve heard they are comfortable with John Sewell pitching, too.”
In each of the Wildcats’ five losses this season, Gutierrez said his team was in the game until the very end.
Gutierrez said he thinks he knows the key to victory Monday.
“I think whoever comes to hit the ball that day will win,” he said.