By Dave Wagner
Junior Tomas Sotelo’s home run backed shutout pitching from Justin Gilchrist and Mario Salazar in the opener and catcher Tyler Rutherford led a 12-hit attack with two doubles and a triple in the nightcap as the Portales High baseball team posted a 4-0, 11-6 sweep of Las Vegas Robertson on Saturday at Ram Field.
The Rams (8-6) rallied for six runs in the bottom of the sixth to win the seesaw nightcap after snapping a six-game losing streak in the opener. The games were makeups of a rainout the previous Saturday.
PHS begins District 4-3A action next Saturday with an 11 a.m. doubleheader at Ruidoso.
“I’m just glad to get back on the winning track going into district,” PHS coach Arturo Ontiveros said. “It was good to come back in the second game.”
Gilchrist fought his control at times, but allowed just three hits through six innings in the opener before Salazar worked a 1-2-3 seventh. Meantime, Sotelo broke a scoreless tie with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the second.
“Like coach says, ‘When you hit the ball, just run,’” said Sotelo, a transfer from Clovis. “It felt pretty good when I swung. I knew if it wasn’t a homer, it would be at least a standup double.
“We’ve been in a slump. All we needed was a little bit of momentum. We’ve just got to keep our head up and play as hard as we can.”
Gilchrist reached on an error, stole second and came around on a passed ball and a wild pitch in the third, and Salazar hit a two-run single in the fourth. Gilchrist, who walked four Cardinals while striking out six, got help from Sotelo in the sixth when the right fielder threw out a runner trying to score from second on a single.
“Justin always seems to start off a little slow, but then he settles down,” Ontiveros said. “We need to try to get his pitch count down.”
Gilchrist had four RBIs in the second contest, including a game-tying, two-run single in the fifth. He then scored on a double by Jacob Lopez, but the Cardinals (4-6) regained a 6-5 lead on a two-out, two-run single by Rico Ortega.
The Rams then strung together six hits off reliever Kevin Ortega in the bottom of the sixth, including an RBI double by Cruz Ontiveros, a run-scoring triple by Rutherford and RBI singles by Salazar, Gilchrist and winning pitcher Sammy Hightower.
“I put my harder thrower in there, but Portales is a fastball-hitting team,” Robertson coach Leroy Gonzales said. “It was a bad move on the coach’s part.”
Gonzales noted defense let the Cardinals down, leading to five unearned runs for PHS off starter Mark Ortega.
“If you give good teams extra outs, they’re going to hurt you,” he said.
Portales 4, Las Vegas Robertson 0
Robertson 000 000 0 — 0 3 2
Portales 011 200 x — 4 8 1
Rico Ortega and Adam Ortiz; Justin Gilchrist, Mario Salazar (7) and Tyler Rutherford. W — Gilchrist. L — R. Ortega. LOB — Robertson 6, Portales 8. 2B — Robertson: R. Ortega. Portales: Eric Ornelas. 3B — Portales: Rutherford. HR — Portales: Tomas Sotelo. T — 147.
Portales 11, Las Vegas Robertson 6
Robertson 001 212 0 — 6 9 3
Portales 200 036 x —11 12 2
Mark Ortega, Kevin Quintana (5), Damien Yara (6) and Ortiz; Salazar, Sammy Hightower (5) and Rutherford. W — Hightower. L — Quintana. LOB — Robertson 8, Portales 5. 2B — Robertson: R. Ortega 2. Portales: Rutherford 2, Jacob Lopez, Cruz Ontiveros. 3B — Robertson: Adam Martinez. Portales: Rutherford. HR — Robertson: A. Martinez. T — 2:17.