Cats fall in 5A baseball finals

Clovis High sophomore second baseman Sean Cruce applies the tag on a steal attempt by La Cueva’s James Parr for a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play in Saturday’s Class 5A state baseball championship in Albuquerque. Photo by Rick White

By Rick White

ALBUQUERQUE — There was no cardiac-inducing comeback this time as top-ranked La Cueva ended Clovis High’s record-breaking season in convincing fashion.

Jordan Pacheco pitched six strong innings and defending champion La Cueva broke open a tight game in its final at-bat en route to an 11-0 win against the Wildcats in Saturday’s Class 5A title game at Isotopes Park.

Making its first state championship game appearance, Clovis (23-6) managed just four hits and did not advance a runner past second base.

“We didn’t hit the ball again today,” Clovis coach Shane Shallenberger said. “Pacheco did a good job. We hit the ball hard at times right at people.

“It’s 4-0 heading into the last inning, then one bunt blew up on us and they capitalized.”

The Wildcats, who used a four-run seventh-inning to beat West Mesa 6-2 in Friday’s semifinals, finished the season with a school record for wins.

“I told them they had nothing to hang their heads about,” Shallenberger said. “We’re still the second-best team in the state.

“They had a great season. They set some high standards this season that everybody from here on out will have to try and match.”

La Cueva coach Stan McKeever said his team had trouble settling down in their first two playoff games.

But not on Saturday, as the Bears (28-0) roughed up three Clovis pitchers for 11 hits, including four doubles and a triple while extending its winning streak to 58 games, a state-record.

“The last couple of games we played kind of nervous,” McKeever said. “But I thought we did a better job of coming out relaxed today and we played well.”

La Cueva, which has not lost since the state semifinals in 2002, is ranked first in the nation in one prep poll.

“They’re definitely the number one team in the state and they showed us today,” Shallenberger said. “I don’t know how to rank them in the nation.”

Robert Riggins started for the Wildcats, allowing four runs and six hits before being lifted in favor of ace reliever Jason Seefeld.

After pitching two scoreless innings, Seefeld ran into control problems in the seventh when La Cueva scored seven runs. Seefeld’s nightmare frame included a walk, three hit batters, two wild pitches and a throwing error.

Shallenberger said he was hoping to keep La Cueva off-balance by bringing in the hard-throwing Seefeld. Riggins relies more on breaking balls and location.

“I wanted Riggins to go through the lineup once or maybe twice and then go with (Seefeld),” Shallenberger said. “I thought we’d shut them down that way, and it seemed to work until the seventh.”

Seefeld, who is headed for the University of Arizona to play baseball next season, is one of six seniors on the team.

Class 5A Championship
La Cueva 11, Clovis 0
La Cueva 200 200 7 — 11 11 0
Clovis 000 000 0 — 0 4 1
Jordan Pacheco, Kevin Biringer (7) and Zach Arnett; Robert Riggins, Jason Seefeld (5), Luke Gray (7) and Richard Urban. W — Pacheco (4-0). L — Riggins. DP — La Cueva. LOB — La Cueva 7, Clovis 4. 2B — La Cueva, Jason Davidson 2, J.J. Muse, Matt Quinllen. Clovis, Seefeld. 3B — La Cueva, Arnett. T: 1:56.
Top hitters — La Cueva, Arnett 2-4, Davidson 2-4, Muse 2-4. Clovis, Seefeld 2-3, Ryan Denton 2-3.
Pitching — La Cueva, Pacheco 3 hits, 7 so, 0 bb. Biringer, 1 hit, 1 so, 0 bb. Clovis, Riggins, 6 hits, 3 so, 2 bb; Seefeld, 5 hits, 4 so, 2 bb; Gray, 0 hits, O so, ) bb.
Records — La Cueva 28-0, Clovis 23-6.