Saturday ended exactly as it began, with one game separating the baseball teams from La Cueva and Sandia in District 2-5A.
They did switch places, however.
The visiting Bears won a thrilling Game 1 in extra innings, and fifth-ranked La Cueva held on in Game 2 to complete a doubleheader sweep of the previously undefeated Matadors.
The finals were 7-6, in eight innings, and 8-7 in a compelling twin bill that took nearly seven hours to complete.
“To come out and get a sweep,” Bears coach Gerard Pineda said, “does wonders.”
La Cueva (13-1, 5-1 in 2-5A) started the day a game back of Sandia, but finished the day a game in front of the Matadors (12-2, 4-2).
“That’s as tough as it gets,” said Chris Eaton, coach of
No. 4-ranked Sandia. “The other side of baseball? When it doesn’t go your way? That was today.”
Game 1 was a crazy ride, with La Cueva leading 5-1 in the third. Later, the Matadors scored three runs in the fifth to tie the game 5-5, and Aiden May’s solo home run in the sixth put the Matadors in front.
But in the top of the seventh, Nicholas Sandoval drew a two-out walk for La Cueva. With two strikes, Bears catcher David Cooper sliced a single down the right-field line. Sandoval never stopped running and motored home all the way from first for a 6-6 tie.
In the eighth, the Bears were at two outs and two strikes when Matthew Dinae took an 0-2 pitch the other way to left-center for a double, scoring Max McGaha.
“I was trying to be the big hero today,” said Dinae. He also was the winning pitcher, in relief.
La Cueva raced out to a 4-0 lead in Game 2. Sandia starter Matt Romero had control issues, and two leadoff walks to begin the second came back to haunt him as both scored. In the third, Ryan Roche hit a towering two-run home run to right for a 4-0 lead, although Roche stopped halfway between first and second base, unsure if the leaping attempt at the wall by Sandia outfielder Ezra Mestas resulted in a catch.
After a lightning delay in the sixth, La Cueva tallied four quick runs (all with two out) for an 8-1 lead, highlighted by a two-run single from Akili Carris, who had four hits and four RBIs in the two games.
“I think our loss last week (at Piedra Vista) was a punch in the mouth and I think it was really good for us,” Carris said. “We had a great approach all week. Everyone was locked in, and I think that’s a big part of the reason why we had success here today.”
Still, Sandia made it close. The Matadors scored two in the sixth on May’s second homer of the day, and Sandia scored four times in the seventh, including Nico Barela’s bases-loaded, three-run double.
But Dinae, in relief in Game 2, got a strikeout to end the day and earned a save.
LA CUEVA 7, SANDIA 6 (Game 1, 8 Innings)
La Cueva 203 000 11 — 7 9 1
Sandia 011 031 00 — 6 9 1
Batteries: LC, Greyson Long, Matthew Dinae (5) and David Cooper. S, Jacob Kmatz, Jordan Martinez (7) and Stuart Jaramillo. Win: Dinae (1-0). Loss: Martinez (1-1). Leading hitters: LC, Akili Carris 2-4, 2B, 2RBIs; Dinae 2-4, RBI. S, Aiden May 3-5, HR, 3R; Juan Portillo 2-4, 2B, RBI.
LA CUEVA 8, SANDIA 7 (Game 2)
La Cueva 022 004 0 — 8 9 1
Sandia 000 102 4 — 7 7 2
Batteries: LC, Tyler Manyo, Brenden Hepker (7), Matthew Dinae (7) and David Cooper. S, Matt Romero, Adrien Martin (6) and Stuart Jaramillo. Win: Manyo (1-0). Loss: Romero (6-1). Leading hitters: LC, Akili Carris 2-4, 2RBIs; Nicholas Sandoval 2-3. S, Jordan Martinez 2-4, 2B; Nico Barela 1-4, 2B, 3RBIs. Records: LC 13-1, 5-1 in 2-5A; S 12-2, 4-2.