Texico one win away from championship

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

ALBUQUERQUE — Most Class 1A teams in the state tournament came in with natural concern over what kind of effective pitching they could drum up after day one. If Texico had worries, it wasn’t very evident in the performance of sophomore Theo Marez.

Backed by another impressive hitting display, Marez and the Wolverines rolled over Magdalena 18-3 in a state semifinal at St. Pius High School. Texico (17-2) will play Gateway Christian (19-4) at 9 a.m. today at Isotopes Park for the Class 1A championship.

“Theo hadn’t thrown in awhile. It had been probably two, two-and-a-half weeks since he’d thrown,” Texico coach Richard Luscombe said. “I think it just took awhile for him to get into his groove.”

Magdalena (11-12) batted first and Steers’ clean-up hitter Trowen Vinyard grooved one Marez offering right off the scoreboard in left-centerfield.

That 2-0 lead for Magdalena, however, lasted only until Texico came up to bat.

The Wolverines began the bottom of the first with four straight singles — from Braden Vaughan, Marez, Logan Brown and Joel Maldonado. When Texico’s Aaron Vaughan launched a double over the head of Magdalena centerfielder Jason Benavidez, the Wolverines owned a 4-2 lead. Jesse Walthers’ later singled home Aaron Vaughan before the first inning came to a close.

Marez then asserted himself on the mound, striking out the side in the second inning.

“Once he got going, I thought his curve ball was really good and his location was good,” Luscombe said. “Except for that one in the first inning.”

“In the first inning, I really hadn’t settled down. I wasn’t throwing hard, I was just kind of putting meatballs up there,” Marez said. “Later in the game, I just found my spots.”

The game was shortened to five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule. That also occurred on Monday when Texico blasted Dora 13-3 behind Vaughan’s pitching.

“We were able to keep both of those kids in pretty decent pitch counts. If we need to use them, we can use them. That makes a big difference,” said Luscombe, who plans to start Maldonado in the 1A championship game.

Brown and Maldonado had back-to-back home runs off Steers pitcher Ernest Torres in the third inning to give Texico a 12-3 lead.

That kind of hitting oomph worried Gateway Christian almost immediately after that team beat Elida 15-5 in the other semifinal.

“Unfortunately, I have watched them,” said Gateway Christian coach Rick Rapp of the Wolverines. “They hit the ball well. We knew we had to take things one game at a time, but we also knew Texico was the team to beat.

“They’re kind of scary. Everybody hits the ball,” Rapp added. “I’m glad we’re playing over there at Isotopes Park, so they’re going to have to hit them even further.”

Class 5A
Quarterfinals

La Cueva 11, Rio Grande 0
Eldorado 10, Manzano 0
Carlsbad 10, Mayfield 7
Las Cruces 5, Hobbs 4

Class 3A
Quarterfinals

Pojoaque 16, Bloomfield 7
Raton 14, Shiprock 4
Lovington 15, Bernalillo 7
Cobre 19, Portales 1

Class 2A
Semifinals

Tularosa 9, Loving 8
Sandia Prep 13, Lordsburg 12

Class A
Semifinals

Texico 18, Magdalena 3
Gateway Christian 15, Elida 5