Kolby Burton said it out loud, but probably all of the La Cueva Bears felt the same.
“We want Sandia,” the La Cueva High School third baseman said.
A month after the Bears’ low point of the season, being swept at home in a district doubleheader by the Matadors, La Cueva will face Sandia again, this time in the Class 5A baseball semifinals.
No. 2 Sandia and No. 3 La Cueva, plus top-seeded Carlsbad and No. 5 Hobbs, won quarterfinal games Thursday at Santa Ana Star Field, setting the state for Friday’s semifinals.
The Cavemen and Eagles, district partners, play at 1 p.m. Friday at SASF. That is followed at 4 p.m. by the Matadors and Bears.
NO. 2 SANDIA 7, NO. 7 RIO RANCHO 2: Trailing 1-0, the Matadors (21-7) exploded for six runs in the bottom of the fourth to take control and that was plenty for pitcher Nico Barela, who struck out a dozen Rams (24-5) in a six-hitter.
The top five batters in the Sandia lineup went a combined 2-for-16. The bottom four went 7-for-11 with six RBIs.
“We’re a really deep lineup,” catcher Danny Santiago said. “1-9 can hit. We just have a pass the torch mentality.”
In the fourth, Jameer Meadows’ bases-loaded, two-RBI single to left center put the Matadors in front 2-1. After an RBI single by Barela, Santiago went the other way and doubled down the right-field line, plating two more runs and a 5-1 edge.
Rio Rancho coach Ron Murphy said half a dozen of his players came down with the flu and missed the game. Four of them were starters.
No. 3 LA CUEVA 8, No. 6 CLEVELAND 6: The Bears (23-4) scored the first five runs of the game against the Storm (18-11), although the Bears had to hold on late.
Burton’s two-RBI double sparked a three-run first inning for the Bears, while Max McGaha had RBI hits in each of the first two innings.
“When we get a lead early,” McGaha said, “it’s hard to come back on us. … They did make it interesting, but I’m confident in us at all times.”
Cleveland, with Austin Barela swatting a bases-loaded triple to left-center in the fifth, cut the deficit to 5-3, and the Storm added a run in the sixth for a 5-4 game.
But La Cueva tacked on three crucial insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth.
The two-run loss was painful for Cleveland, as a probable two-run single by Logan Kinter in the first inning never happened when his liner struck the base umpire behind the mound in the leg and became a dead ball.
La Cueva starter Greyson Long (8-2) got a ground ball out and the threat was over.
No. 1 CARLSBAD 8, No. 9 FARMINGTON 1: In the final start of his prep career, Carlsbad senior right-hander Nolan Perry (10-1) delivered a gem, striking out nine in a complete-game two-hitter for the Cavemen (25-4).
Carlsbad pounded out 14 hits against Farmington ace Zach Raichel, and four batters had multiple-hit games, led by center fielder Tristin Thomas who was 3-for-4 with three runs and a pair of RBIs.
Carlsbad scored single runs in the first three innings, and broke it open late against the Scorpions (20-8) with four runs in the sixth.
Thomas and Perry both had three hits for Carlsbad. Mack Mabrey and Grant Harvill had two hits apiece.
“Our coaches told us that Farmington said we can’t hit,” said Perry. “We just wanted to prove them wrong and everyone had that chip on their shoulder.”
No. 5 HOBBS 5, No. 4 ORGAN MOUNTAIN 1: The Eagles (23-6), after a slow start, finally broke through by scoring two runs in the fourth, on Eryk McNabb’s RBI single and Edwin Perez’s ground ball, to take a 2-1 lead over the Knights. It was a lead the Eagles did not relinquish with senior Zak McPeters tossing a six-hitter.
Another ground-ball out in the sixth gave Hobbs a 3-1 edge, and RBI singles from Easton Kuykendall and Isaiah Montes in the seventh sealed Organ Mountain’s (25-5) fate.
Hobbs was the state runner-up last year.
CARLSBAD 8, FARMINGTON 1
Farmington 001 000 0 — 1 2 0
Carlsbad 111 014 x — 8 14 0
Batteries: F, Zach Raichel, Elijah Long (6) and Sam Trujillo. C, Nolan Perry and Ty Molina. Win: Perry (10-1). Loss: Raichel. Leading hitters: C, Tristin Thomas 3-4, 2 2B, 2RBIs; Perry 3-4, 2RBIs; Mack Mabrey 2-4, 3B, 2RBIs; Grant Harvill 2-3, 2B. Records: C 25-4; F 20-8.
LA CUEVA 8, CLEVELAND 6
Cleveland 000 031 2 — 6 9 0
La Cueva 320 003 x — 8 11 2
Batteries: C, Jace Dominic, Logan Kinter (3) and Braylen Elzy. LC, Greyson Long, Matthew Dinae (7) and David Cooper. Win: Long (8-2). Loss: Dominic. Leading hitters: C, D.J. Sandoval 2-2, 2B; Elzy 2-3. LC, Cooper 3-3, 2B, RBI; MaxMcGaha 2-3, 2RBIs; Kolby Burton 2-3, 2B, 2RBIs; Colt Mangino 2-3, 3B. Records: LC 23-4; C 18-11.
SANDIA 7, RIO RANCHO 2
Rio Rancho 100 010 0 — 2 6 1
Sandia 000 601 x — 7 9 0
Batteries: RR, Seth Lee, Jason Parker (4), Jason Gordon (5), Devon Alvarado (7) and Josh Boyer. S, Nico Barela and Danny Santiago. Win: Barela. Loss: Lee. Leading hitters: RR, Dominick Priddy 2-3, 3B, 2R. S, Santiago 3-3, 2 2B, 2RBIs; Damien Talamantes 2-3, 2B, RBI. Records: S 21-7; RR 24-5.