RUIDOSO — With a little more than week to go in the district baseball season, just two games separate the top three teams in District 4-3A.
Portales (14-6, 6-2 district) stayed alive in its quest for a playoff spot with a 10-3, 18-11 sweep Saturday at Ruidoso. The Rams stayed in second place, though, because Lovington (12-7-1 overall, 5-1 district) swept New Mexico Military Institute.
However, the district standings may change again before Tuesday, when the Rams (12-10, 5-3) visit NMMI for a doubleheader. Colt coach Charlie Ward said that he planned to file a protest in regard to the second game against Lovington.
Ward said that a two-run homer was disallowed after Lovington coaches argued that the Colts had made an illegal substitution. Ward said he had made a legal re-entry for the player that hit a fourth-inning homer that would have given the Colts a 12-10 lead, and also claimed that the Lovington coaches did not protest the homer until four more batters came up.
Lovington went on to win the game 15-14.
Portales, meanwhile, kept their second-place standing thanks to the pitching of seniors T.C. Nusser and Seth Clabaugh. Nusser allowed seven hits in the first game, struck out 10, and homered in each contest.
As for Clabaugh, the left-hander picked up his ninth win of the season in four innings of relief. Starter Kevin Cheatham left after three innings with Portales trailing 8-5. Cheatham homered in the nightcap, while Clabaugh went 5-for-5 and struck out four Warrior batters.
The sweep kept Ruidoso (6-13) winless in 10 district games.
There are four doubleheaders left on the District 4-3A schedule with games Tuesday (Portales/NMMI, Lovington/Ruidoso), Thursday (Portales/Lovington) and a make-up game (Lovington/NMMI) on May 4.
“We feel really good. All we’ve got to do is win out, and we win the district,” Hill said with a laugh, before noting that winning out is no easy task against Lovington and NMMI.
Softball team clinches second place in 4-3A
SANTA FE — The Portales High softball team needed only one win to reach the playoffs for the third consecutive season. They took two instead, beating St. Michael’s on the road 9-5 and 4-2.
“After the first one, we relaxed, we enjoyed it,” Portales coach Robbie Crowley said. “They played well.”
The Lady Rams will be playing the waiting game now — they’re idle until the Class 3A regionals, scheduled for May 8. Portales is locked into the second spot in District 4-3A, and will face the District 3-3A champion.
Grants is the favorite in 3-3A and is the No. 3 team in the Albuquerque Journal coaches poll behind Bernalillo and Lovington, the teams that played in last season’s state title game.