Though the final score might not indicate such, both the Portales and Raton pitching squads acknowledged difficulties Friday at Ram Field.
However, a veteran Portales team had defense behind Brandon Adkins and put together timely hits on starter Derek Valdez to make all the difference for a 14-2 win and a 1-0 lead in their Class 3A first-round series.
The Rams (16-8) can close out the best-of-three series with a win in today’s 11 a.m. game, while Raton (11-15) looks to tie the series up and force the third game 30 minutes after the Game 2 conclusion.
Sixth-seeded Portales took advantage early, scoring nine runs in the first inning as Raton couldn’t overcome three errors. Adkins, who went 2-4 and also reached twice on errors, ended the first-inning scoring with a three-run home run to center.
The Tigers had fielding troubles throughout the night, finishing with six errors.
Meanwhile, Adkins escaped trouble throughout his 111-pitch night — trouble Adkins and Portales coach Arturo Ontiveros said was somewhat self-inflicted.
“They got his pitch count up,” Ontiveros said. “They’re not going to be easy outs anywhere (in the lineup).”
Adkins escaped a one-out bases loaded jam in the second with a 5-4 double play on a weak popup.
“That’s a big boost,” Adkins said. “When you have a team behind you, you’ve got all the confidence in the world.”
In the third, Adkins struck out the side after allowing the first four Tigers to reach base. He finished with seven strikeouts and two hits allowed before giving way to reliever Eric Aguilar with two outs in the fifth.
The Tigers, who finished third in District 2-3A, left 10 runners on base.
First baseman Martin Mendoza went 2-for-3 for the Rams with a two-run home run in the third inning, while leadoff hitter Shawn Carrasco went 2-for-3 with three runs scored.
Jordan Carlini went 2-for-2 and scored in the fifth on a passed ball for the Tigers. Freshman George Marquez brought in Raton’s other run on a bases-loaded walk in the third.
Raton coach Mike Marez said his team played OK in spots, but gave the District 4-3A champion Rams a lot of help they didn’t need.
“It’s rough to give them another five, six outs,” Marez said, “especially when you’ve got a dominant kid like that on the mound.”
Ontiveros said senior Logan Erf will start Game 2, and he’ll have plenty of bullpen options with Adkins taking care of most of Friday’s innings.
Best of 3
Portales 14, Raton 2
Raton 001 01 — 2 2 6
Portales 903 2X — 14 9 2
Derek Valdez, Justin Silva (1) and Thomas Hattaway. Brandon Adkins, Eric Aguilar (5) and Tim Sando. 2B — Portales, Adkins. HR — Portales, Adkins, Martin Mendoza.