The Portales Rams had to play catch-up all day on Saturday and they were reasonably good at it. But, in 15 innings of play, the Rams never had a lead and the major consequence of that stat is that the Portales baseball team won’t be advancing to the Class 3A state quarterfinals next weekend.
Needing only one win, to go along with a victory on Friday already in hand, Portales was swept 6-5 and 10-3 by Raton at Ram Field, and it was the Tigers who took the best-of-three playoff series.
“You hate to have this conversation with them at the end of the year,” said Portales coach Art Ontiveros after his postgame talk with team members. “Adversity, working through problems, is something that's going to happen in life.
“You hope that they can handle these types of situations. It only gets tougher from here; this is only a game.”
Raton (13-15) got off to quick leads in both games. The opener, which ended up being settled in extra innings, saw the visiting Tigers open a 5-0 gap by scoring four in the fourth.
Portales (16-10) started to chip away at that point off Raton pitcher Lucas Serna. In the bottom of the fourth, Eric Aguilar's double led to one run. In the fifth, seniors Logan Erf and Derek Robinson each clubbed extra base hits as three runs from Portales made the score 5-4.
Finally, in the bottom of the seventh, Portales tied the game. Robinson singled to center to score Erf, who also had a base hit to start the frame.
However, with the bases loaded and one of Portales’ best hitters at the plate, Serna fanned Brandon Adkins to end the threat. It was the second time the Tigers’ hurler worked himself out of a bases-loaded jam.
In the eighth, a double by Derrick Valdez turned into another one-run lead for Raton when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Jordan Carlini. In the bottom of the eighth, with a Portales runner at third, Serna struck out Erf and Aguilar to finish the game.
Although Serna hadn’t struck out a batter from the third through the sixth innings, he registered three in the last two Portales at-bats.
Serna also aided himself by picking off three Rams runners — two who led off too far from third base.
In the series opener on Friday, Portales routed Raton 14-2.
“You know what happened to us last year with Hope Christian, we beat them 15-1 and then lost two,” Tigers coach Michael Marez said. “We learned that there’s nothing that can’t be done.”
In the second game, Raton jumped out to a four-run lead in the top of the first. Portales rebounded with three in the bottom of the third, which included a solo homer to center by Adkins, a double by Erf down the third base line and a two-run single by Robinson.
But Raton blew the game open by scoring twice in the fifth and tallying four runs in the top of the seventh.
“It seems as though we thought we eventually were going to win it,” Ontiveros said. “We got kind of relaxed, but we just came up short.
“But we never made a good move to put pressure on them. It goes back to our hitting, which is what it’s gone back to with our losses this year. We just didn’t get the hits when we needed to.”