By Kevin Wilson
Rebekah Gonzales did a lot of praying on Saturday, likely enough to cover her for a few Sundays.
“When I was at bat, I prayed for a hit,” the sophomore second baseman for Portales said. “When I was on base, I was praying to be swift.”
Speed was on her side long enough to allow her to score the decisive run in 3-2, 16-inning marathon win over St. Michael’s on Saturday at City Softball Park.
Combined with a 2-1 win in the opener, Portales (10-11, 5-3 district) managed to stay in second place in the District 4-3A standings heading into Tuesday’s doubleheader against Lovington.
“This is the type of game that if you win, there’s a lot of momentum,” Portales coach Robbie Crowley said. “If you lose it, it could mean the end of your season.”
It might have felt like the entire season took place for Portales and senior pitcher Kassandra Richards over the last two days. Richards pitched Friday’s doubleheader split at Ruidoso, then came back and pitched all 23 innings on Saturday.
Richards held the Lady Horsemen at bay for the final 11 innings of the game, and St. Michael’s stranded runners in each of the final five innings.
“Tough, tough loss,” St. Michael’s coach Ron Noedel said. “We played about three-and-a-half games, lost two.
“In the first game, we threw a no-hitter and we lost it — a passed ball here, an error there — and we had good pitching in the second game, but the bats didn’t show up.”
They rarely showed up for Portales either, as reliever Loretta Romero took over with one out in the third and shut out Portales on six hits over the next 12 1/3 innings, keeping the nightcap tied at 2-2 through 15 innings.
The Lady Rams finally broke through in the 16th, with Gonzales reaching on a single up the middle. Two batters later, shortstop Kelly Parkey lined the ball into center field. Gonzales, who advanced to second on a passed ball, scored easily for Portales.
“It was awesome. It’s a nailbiter,” Gonzales said. “I was really glad we had Kassandra.”
Portales scored its first two runs in the second inning, as Richards scored on a single by Carissa Martinez. Martinez came home on an errant throw later in the inning.
St. Michael’s opened the game with a triple from shortstop Samantha Roybal and scored her with a single from Alex Rael, then added a run in the fifth on a two-out single from Stephanie Gonzales.
The Lady Rams will host Lovington Tuesday, then travel to St. Michael’s for a Saturday doubleheader.
The top two finishers in district play advance to regionals.
“We’ve got to get one more from St. Mike’s (to stay in second),” Crowley said. “I’m not saying we can’t get one from Lovington. I think we can, I know we can.”