Two of the top four seeds in the Class 5A state baseball tournament are going to have to win a do-or-die game to extend their seasons.
No. 1 Volcano Vista and No. 4 Rio Grande both lost games on Thursday as the playoffs began across the state.
The Hawks, behind southpaw Darius Garcia’s two-hitter, beat No. 16 Alamogordo 7-0 in the first game of their doubleheader Thursday afternoon. But the Tigers capitalized on some spotty Volcano Vista defense in the second game and stunned the Hawks 8-5.
That will force a third and deciding game in this best-of-three series at noon on Saturday.
“Tenuous situation,” Hawks coach Kevin Andersh said.
Volcano Vista committed five errors in the second game. And that led to the end of one of the more unknown — and yet impressive — streaks going, as the Hawks had won 19 consecutive first-round contests.
“I think we have a better pitching matchup going into the third game,” Andersh said. “If we don’t get into our own heads defensively … I think we’ll be OK.”
Farmington, the No. 13 seed in 5A, beat Rio Grande 5-2 in their opening game in the late afternoon.
The Ravens rebounded, beating the Scorpions 7-2 in the second game.
“All we (had) to do was win one and get to a Game 3,” Ravens coach Orlando Griego said.
The series finale is at Rio Grande, at 3 p.m. today.
Mario Armendariz delivered the key hit in the second game for Rio Grande, with a two-out, two-strike, two-run single to left-center with the bases loaded to give the Ravens a 6-2 cushion in the bottom of the fifth.
In Rio Rancho, after managing just three runs while going 0-3 last week against Rio Grande, Cleveland and Volcano Vista, the fifth-seeded Rams scratched out a 5-1 victory Thursday afternoon against the visiting 12th seed from Eldorado.
Rio Rancho spotted Eldorado a first-inning run, but Rams senior right-hander Andrew Duran (8-2) allowed only three hits the rest of the way as the Eagles and Rio Rancho met in the opening round for the third straight year.
“The first inning, I made a couple mistakes, left the ball up,” Duran said. “After that, I kinda settled in, was able to mix in all my pitches.”
Noah Brewer went 3-for-3 to lead the Rams. Brewer scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Eldorado lefty Noah Armstrong in the fourth; the Rams added a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth, which Brewer started with a leadoff single.
“Obviously, we made some adjustments,” coach Ron Murphy said. “More than anything else, we practiced having fun. … When you lose three games in a row, and the kids start getting tight under pressure … we lightened the load a little bit at practice.”
The series resumes at 4 p.m. today.
Also Thursday in 5A, No. 2 Centennial blanked No. 15 Deming 10-0. The other four 5A series begin today.
CLASS 4A/3A: No. 1 seed St. Pius dominated Bloomfield in two games Thursday, winning 11-1 and 9-0 in 4A. The Sartans await Belen or Valley in the quarterfinals. The Eagles and Vikings begin their series this afternoon.
Nate Sanchez drove in three runs for the Sartans in the opener, and Mason Ashcraft belted a pair of home runs for St. Pius in Game 2, while Brayden Peyton had three RBIs in the second game.
St. Pius pitching limited the Bobcats to nine total hits.
In Class 3A, second-seeded East Mountain had no trouble getting into the quarterfinals next week.
The Timberwolves beat No. 15 Raton 9-3 and 12-1 on Thursday in the first round to sweep that series.
Journal Staff Writer James Yodice and Gary Herron of the Rio Rancho Observer contributed to this story.