Tigers notch 1A tourney’s second seed

PNT staff

After a 30-year absence from state baseball competition, the Elida Tigers could get used to this.

Elida ended its long dry spell last season, reaching the Class 1A semifinals before losing to eventual runnerup Roswell Gateway Christian.

Second-year coach Jimmy Dale Ward has led the Tigers (9-4) back to this year’s event, and they’ve earned the second seed and a first-round rematch with Gallup Catholic in Wednesday’s last quarterfinal at Los Lunas.

The teams are scheduled to meet at 7 p.m.

Last year, the Tigers beat Gallup Catholic 15-9 in the opening round with an 18-hit attack, including 11 for extra bases. Tom Sullivan led the way, going 5-for-5 with three RBIs, while Trenton Chenault and Wesley Gilmore were both 3-for-5.

Ward said both teams will look quite similar to last season.

“They had one senior last year, so I’m sure they’ll be bigger and stronger,” he said of the Panthers (9-4).

Ward’s team also lost just one senior from last year, and has only one on the current squad. Many of the players are still freshmen and sophomores.

“It’s been kind of a fun deal to watch these kids grow,” Ward said. “They’re doing well.”

The Tigers and Panthers are among six teams returning from last year’s field. Defending champion Texico earned a third seed, while Gateway Christian was seeded first.

Elida played the Wolverines last week in Clovis, hanging on for an 11-10 victory. Ward said that win should be a boost in confidence for his squad.

“That game came at a good time,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good shot if we just go and take care of business.”

Junior right-hander Caleb Widner is scheduled to start Wednesday’s game for the Tigers. Ward said the plan is to use Chenault, a sophomore lefty, in relief if necessary.

Ward said Gilmore, a sophomore right-hander, will probably get the pitching assignment against either Texico or Penasco in a 12:30 p.m. semifinal on Thursday at Los Lunas if they get past Wednesday’s contest.

The championship game is at 8:30 a.m. on Friday at Isotopes Stadium in Albuquerque.

Rams draw Bloomfield — Portales High, coming off a 13-8 first-round win at Las Vegas Robertson on Saturday, will face fourth-seeded Bloomfield in a Class 3A state quarterfinal game at 3 p.m. Thursday at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

If they win, the Rams will face either top-seeded Lovington or No. 9 New Mexico Military — both District 4-3A rivals — in a noon semifinal on Friday at UNM. The title game is at 11 a.m. Saturday at Isotopes Stadium.