By Dave Wagner: PNT sports writer
Despite Tuesday’s doubleheader loss at Lovington, Portales High baseball coach Arturo Ontiveros believes the Rams are still in good shape in the District 4-3A race.
They can’t afford to stub their toes, though, in Saturday’s 11 a.m. home twin bill against last-place Ruidoso at Ram Field.
“We’re in a good spot,” Ontiveros said Thursday. “I feel pretty confident going into Saturday, but if we’re looking to compete for a district championship we have to sweep NMMI (New Mexico Military Institute) and Ruidoso both times.”
Lovington took over sole possession of the district lead at 4-0 by beating the Rams 7-3 and 12-1. NMMI, which lost twice in Portales last Saturday, pulled back to 2-2 with 11-1 and 6-3 wins over Ruidoso on Tuesday in Roswell, dropping the Warriors to 0-4.
Portales and Ruidoso both played in an early-season tournament at Silver City, with the Warriors finishing sixth and Portales seventh in the eight-team event. Both teams beat Tohatchi in that tourney — Ruidoso in the consolation semifinals and the Portales in the final round.
Senior catcher Lynn Pinedo said the Rams (10-7) overall can’t afford to look past the Warriors.
“They put the ball in play real well,” he said. “They made the defense make the plays.
“We have to take every game we can. We can’t afford to lose any more games.”
Ontiveros noted that the Warriors have a quality pitcher in senior right-hander William Wilson.
“He keeps them in most games,” Ontiveros said. “After him, I think they get a little thin with pitching. Hopefully, we can take advantage of that.”
Saturday’s 4-3A games — NMMI plays at Lovington in the other twin bill— will bring the district slate to the halfway point. Sites will be reversed for the second go-round.
Ontiveros said he knew the Rams would have their work cut out against Lovington.
“We knew coming in that Lovington was going to be tough; they had just lost to (Class 5A) Carlsbad 2-1,” he said. “But even if Lovington sweeps us down here, as long as we take care of business with the other teams we’ll be all right.”
Pinedo, one of seven seniors on the Rams’ roster, noted that the team has gotten help from some of its younger players.
“We’ve had some underclassmen step up, like (junior outfielder) Kevin Gonzales,” Pinedo said. “And (junior designated hitter) Todd McBroom came through with a home run at Lovington.
“We’ve had our ups and downs, but with the exception of our games against Goddard (a 10-0 loss) and Lovington, we’ve played pretty well.”