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Top-seeded Bears batter drained Matadors

When you put a No. 1 seed on the field with a physically and perhaps even emotionally exhausted team, you get results like this.

La Cueva, top-seeded for the Albuquerque Metro Baseball Championships, scored early and often Tuesday afternoon as the Bears routed District 2-6A rival Sandia 12-0 in five innings in the Metro quarterfinals.

The Bears (6-1) advanced to Thursday’s semifinals (4 p.m.) at home against Volcano Vista.

La Cueva scored all the runs it would need in its first at-bat against the visiting, ninth-seeded Matadors (4-4), with Richard Ware driving a triple to right, plating a run, and Isaac Standridge adding an RBI double to left-center.

The Bears added four runs in the second – three of them scoring when the Matadors botched a routine double-play ball with a throwing error. Later, Jonathan Stroman and Ryan Phillips added RBI singles.

La Cueva’s pitching, led by starter Ben Schoneman (2-0), again went untouched.

To that end, the Bears have surrendered only six runs in seven games, and five of those came in the opener, a loss to Valley.

“Those guys (our pitchers) have stepped up,” La Cueva coach Gerard Pineda said. “The key is that they’ve been throwing strikes and not walking many guys.”

Moreover, Pineda clearly is thrilled with the leather on his roster.

“One of the best defensive teams I’ve had, at any level,” he said.

Sandia, meanwhile, is not only dealing with the absence of head coach John Gunther, who has been fighting Stage IV colon cancer, but Tuesday was the Matadors’ fifth game in six days.

They just finished competing in Carlsbad’s tournament over the weekend, and have already played Monday and Tuesday this week.

La Cueva showed its support for Gunther by painting his initials “JG” into the grass just behind home plate. Gunther’s son Robert has been running the team in recent weeks, although he did not travel to Carlsbad so he could be near his ailing father. Robert Gunther was back in the dugout Monday and Tuesday.

No. 3 CLEVELAND 13, No. 11 CIBOLA 3 (5): At Cleveland, Treston Shallenberger drove in six runs – including a bases-loaded, walk-off triple – for the Storm (10-1) as it advanced to play at No. 2 Rio Rancho on Thursday at 4 p.m. in the semifinals.

Ezra Acosta (4-0) pitched his fourth complete game already this season for Cleveland.

The Storm – like Sandia, it also played at the Carlsbad tournament – scored eight runs in the fourth to take a 10-3 lead.

No. 4 VOLCANO VISTA 13, No. 12 ALBUQUERQUE HIGH 0 (5): At Volcano, the Hawks scored 11 runs in the first two innings, and Evan Ruiz and Mikey Saiz drove in three runs apiece as Volcano Vista (5-4) routed the Bulldogs.

No. 2 RIO RANCHO 9, No. 10 ST. PIUS 0: Junior right-hander Bodhi Bolen scattered three hits over 51/3 innings, and Jacob Cook homered for the Rams (10-2).