Rio Rancho and Cleveland baseball teams win opening games in best-of-three first round

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Anticipating a rainy Friday, which turned out to be accurate, the Rio Rancho High School baseball team began its best-of-three series with a 5-1 victory over Eldorado on Thursday afternoon.

That forecast didn’t deter the Cleveland diamond squad, which held its opening game with Mayfield Friday evening, although it was uncharacteristically cold for May; the Storm held on for a 4-3 victory over the Trojans.

The No. 5 Rams (22-5) and No. 3 Storm (22-4) were slated to play the second games in their first-round series Saturday morning. Third games, if necessary, will follow the second games, roughly at about 12:30 p.m.

Rams senior right-hander Andrew Duran shut down the Eldorado bats after giving up three singles and a run in the first inning Thursday afternoon.

Rams come alive at the plate

After managing only three runs while going 0-3 in the last week of the regular season, five runs was a welcome change for the Rams, with the No. 12 Eagles (13-12) held in check after the first frame.

It’s the third season in a row the Eagles and Rams have met at RRHS in the first round.

Senior Andrew Duran (8-2) said he remembered last season’s first-game loss to EHS and he wasn’t about to let that happen again.

“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.”

It was typical of the Rams’ 2019 season — pitchers giving up a few runs early before settling down and shutting down the other team’s offense.

Such was the case Thursday, when Duran got the game’s first two outs, then yielded three singles as the Eagles scored what turned out to be their only run.

Duran allowed only three singles the rest of the way, allowing only one Eagle as far as third base, and struck out five.

Noah Brewer went 3 for 3 to lead the Rams, and leadoff hitter Ethan Silcox was 2 for 3.

Brewer led off the fourth with a double, went to third when catcher Clayton Kempski flew out and scored on a wild pitch, a surprising turn of events because EHS lefty Noah Armstrong, until then, had no problem finding the catcher’s mitt.

The Rams added a run in the fifth — on a Josh Clark single, stolen base, and an RBI infield single by Silcox — and then two more in the sixth, which Brewer started with a leadoff single. Kempski followed with a double; Jacob Braunschweiger drove in Brewer with a single to right and Kevin Pietrzak’s bunt single plated Kempski.

Storm pitchers are generous

Mayfield (12-15) took advantage of nine walks and a hit batter as a trio of Storm hurlers couldn’t find the strike zone.

The Trojans chased starter Jaren Jackson in the second, after they loaded the bases and he’d already walked four batters to that point.

Jeffery Brumfield (8-1) relieved him and got his team out of the jam, although Mayfield held a 2-1 lead.

Jackson atoned for his hurling woes when he laced a two-run triple to give the Storm a 3-2 lead in the fourth.

True to form for the game, two more walks and a wild pitch allowed the Trojans to tie it at 3 in the fifth.

Roy Jennings was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the sixth, and he stole second. One out later, Isaac Toledo tripled to right to give the Storm a 4-3 lead.

Treston Shallenberger earned a save, although he issued two walks sandwiched around an infield single after getting the first two outs in the seventh — ending the game with a comebacker.

“We battled some adversity today, and obviously the weather wasn’t the greatest,” CHS coach Shane Shallenberger said.

“Mayfield played a great game and luckily we came away with a victory.”

Extra innings: The 5A state quarterfinal round games are Thursday at UNM’s Santa Ana Star Field at 10 a.m., and 1, 4 and 7 p.m. See for more information.