Make it a 12-pack for the Carlsbad Cavemen.
One of New Mexico’s most storied baseball programs capped a superlative postseason on Saturday afternoon at Isotopes Park, as the No. 1 seed blanked, and fairly dominated, No. 2 Sandia 7-0 in the Class 5A state final played in front of a crowd of about 2,000 fans.
“This weekend has been the best weekend of my life,” said Carlsbad senior left fielder Brandon Ganaway, who was the offensive standout. “I love these guys. They are my brothers, my family.”
Carlsbad now owns a dozen state championships, and this was the program’s first since 2016.
And this postseason run, as so many of the others before it, could readily be traced to the quality of the starting pitching.
Carlsbad’s mound depth shone through in its five playoff games, as the Cavemen (27-4) only surrendered four runs in those five victories.
Grant Harvill, a senior southpaw, followed Nolan Perry on Thursday and Mack Mabrey on Friday on the bump. He was as effective as either of them, maybe even more so, as the Matadors were blanked for the first time all season.
“Grant did phenomenal today,” said Perry. “He just put his whole heart out there for us.”
Said Cavemen coach Cody May: “We told him, ‘Grant, just keep us in the game. We don’t expect you to shut them out. Just keep us in it and we’ll try to score some runs.’ ”
Harvill struck out 11, using a change-up to set up his fastball, and the Matadors waved at, and missed, a large number of those fastballs. Harvill yielded just two harmless singles, and Sandia never got a runner past second base.
“I think getting them off-balance (with the change), and coming back with the fastball, put them off balance,” Harvill said. He also earned a save in Friday’s 2-1 semifinal victory against Hobbs. “Since I’m not a very hard thrower, you really have to set them up and be smart about it.”
Harvill was the pitcher who earned the win against Hobbs when the Cavemen clinched the district title on April 29. Saturday, with even higher stakes, Harvill was stellar.
“Grant, he’s a dawg,” said an admiring Ganaway, who was 4-for-4, with a double and three RBIs. “I’ve known him forever, and I knew he could do it.”
Carlsbad’s three senior starters Saturday — Ganaway, second baseman Nolan Perry and Harvill — were menaces at the plate. That trio combined for nine of the Cavemen’s 11 hits. Perry was 3-for-4 with three runs and an RBI, and Harvill was 2-4 with an RBI.
Other than those three, Carlsbad returns just about everyone for the 2023 season.
For Sandia (22-8), which was appearing in its first state final in nine years, things went sideways from the start.
“Carlsbad was the better team today,” Matadors coach Chris Eaton said. “I thought we looked like a young team that has never been here, and we just were really tight to start. And it showed.”
Carlsbad touched up Matadors starter Adrien Martin (3-2) for three first-inning runs and the Cavemen were never remotely threatened in the ensuing 6 1/2 innings.
In the Carlsbad first, Perry drilled an RBI single with one out, scoring Tristin Thomas who walked. Perry came around to score on an infield error for the second run, and Ganaway singled home Mack Mabrey for a quick 3-0 start.
Ganaway drove in a run with another single in the third for a 4-0 lead, and the Cavemen tacked on three in the seventh, with Ganaway and Harvill both driving in runs.
“We wanted to finish with a bang,” Ganaway said. “And we did.”
CARLSBAD 7, SANDIA 0
Carlsbad 301 000 3 — 7 11 0
Sandia 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
Batteries: C, Grant Harvill and Ty Molina. S, Adrien Martin, Zach Kmatz (7) and Danny Santiago. Win: Harvill. Loss: Martin (3-2). Leading hitters: C, Brandon Ganaway 4-4, 2B, 3RBIs; Nolan Perry 3-4, 3R,RBI; Harvill 2-4, RBI. Records: C 27-4; S 22-8.