Cats drop title game to Rio Rancho

Clovis High senior third baseman Jared Powers prepares to throw out a Rio Rancho runner at first base during Saturday’s Rio Rancho Invitational championship game. (CNJ staff photo: Jesse Wolfersberger)

CNJ staff

RIO RANCHO — Too many errors and not enough hits.

It was a bad combination for the Clovis High baseball team on Saturday, bidding for their second tournament championship of the early season against Rio Rancho. This time, the Rams got the better of it in their invitational, scoring five runs in the bottom of the fourth en route to a 6-0 victory over Clovis.

The Wildcats (5-3) committed eight errors, which led to four of Rio Rancho’s runs being unearned.

“The wind was bad,” CHS coach Shane Shallenberger said. “We made some errors in the field, but as many errors as we had we were still in the ball game. We just couldn’t put together a rally.”

Rio Rancho (8-1), whose only loss was a 6-5 decision to the Cats in the season-opening Clovis Invitational two weeks ago, scored an unearned run in the second inning. The Rams then combined four of their five hits and four Clovis errors in the decisive fourth.

The only RBI was provided by catcher Christopher Barthagen on a single in the fourth.

Senior Sean Cruce took the loss, pitching 3 1/3 innings. Senior Daniel Casarez went the rest of the way, allowing two walks but no hits.

Casarez, designated hitter Chase Denton and first baseman Parker Wood represented Clovis on the all-tournament team.

Rio Rancho’s Kyle Hammond allowed just two hits over five innings to pick up the win, striking out five. Ryan Reynolds finished for the Rams, giving up two hits in two innings with three strikeouts.

Hammond led the Rams attack with a single and a double, while Casarez picked up two of Clovis’ four singles.

“We had a couple of chances (to score),” Shallenberger said. “Mainly, it was just a bad day defensively.”

Still, he said the Cats were able to reach the tournament finals at Rio Rancho for the first time in his five years.

“This is the best we’ve done here,” Shallenberger said. “I’m proud of the kids.”