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Rio Rancho, La Cueva move closer to district titles

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Nothing these days is coming easily for the Rio Rancho High baseball team.

The Rams on Saturday could have lost all of their lead in District 1-5A, but remarkably, the Class 5A defending state champions won both ends of a doubleheader against Cibola – each time in their final at-bat – to retain first place.

Rio Rancho (17-6 overall, 5-1 in 1-5A) scored three runs in the top of the seventh and took Game 1 by a 5-4 count.

In the second game, Rio Rancho – which once trailed 7-1 – pushed across four runs in the seventh just to force extra innings, then added four more in the top of the ninth to pull out an amazing 15-11 victory over the Cougars (9-12, 1-5).

Marcus Martinez and Grant Templin homered in the opener for Rio Rancho. Angelo Lujan had five hits in the second game.

The day could hardly have turned out much better for Rio Rancho, since Volcano Vista and Cleveland split two games Saturday.

The Hawks won the opener 8-4, but the Storm rallied to win the second game 7-3. Both are 3-3 in district, two games back of Rio Rancho with only three games left in the regular season.

  • In District 5-5A on Saturday, Valley avenged a recent extra-inning loss to West Mesa as the Vikings doubled the Mustangs 8-4.

Valley (12-9-1) leads the league at 7-1, with second-place Rio Grande set to visit the North Valley on Tuesday.

The Vikings scored all their runs in their first three at-bats.

  • La Cueva moved ever closer to locking up the District 2-5A title – and possibly a No. 1 seed for the playoffs – by sweeping Sandia in a doubleheader Saturday.

The Bears steamrolled the Matadors, 14-0 and 22-3.

Andrew Pratt hit two home runs and had five RBIs in the opener for La Cueva. In the second game, the Bears (18-3, 6-0) had 16 hits in just five innings.

La Cueva can clinch the 2-5A title at home Wednesday against Eldorado. The second-place Eagles (18-3, 4-2) swept two games from Manzano on Saturday to keep their hopes alive.

  • Sandia Prep (18-4, 5-0 in 5-3A) is close to clinching first place in its district after the Sundevils swept Hope Christian 8-0 and 2-1 Saturday.

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Rams catcher Chris Carr is on the run to chase after a passed ball in the first inning Tuesday evening; it allowed Alex Lawson to score for a 2-1 Rams lead. (Rio Rancho Observer—GARY HERRON photo)
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