Rams face tough obstacle in 3A bracket

By Kevin Wilson
Staff writer
kwilson@cnjonline.com

If the Portales High baseball team can get to Saturday’s Class 3A championship, it will have a pretty good routine with a noon Thursday quarterfinal, an 11 a.m. Friday semifinal and a 12:30 p.m. Saturday championship.

But the first game is a pretty big “If.” A top-seeded “if.” An “if” that currently has a 13-game winning streak and is perfect on the season in 22 contests against New Mexico teams.

KEVIN WILSON: Staff photo Portales senior shortstop Jarret Faust takes a swing at a  batting practice pitch as junior Matt Martinez catches during the Rams’ Tuesday practice. Portales (16-12), seeded eighth in Class 3A, faces No. 1 Silver in a noon quarterfinal today at Eldorado High School.

KEVIN WILSON: Staff photo
Portales senior shortstop Jarret Faust takes a swing at a batting practice pitch as junior Matt Martinez catches during the Rams’ Tuesday practice. Portales (16-12), seeded eighth in Class 3A, faces No. 1 Silver in a noon quarterfinal today at Eldorado High School.

Still, Portales (16-12) is heading into today’s noon quarterfinal against Silver with the frame of mind that it can be the “if” of the Class 3A bracket.

“I’m confident about it,” Portales shortstop Jarret Faust said as he stretched the grey “Ram Baseball: Attitude and Effort” wristbands the team got for winning district. “I feel like we’ve been hitting the ball well. If we keep hitting the ball the way have, we’ll be able to get the win.”

If Portales can pull the upset over Silver (23-4), it will move on to an 11 a.m. Friday semifinal against either No. 4 Hope Christian or District 4-3A foe and 12th-seeded Ruidoso, and be a win away from its sixth state title game appearance in school history.

But back to “if,” with what Ram coach Dusty Nusser understands is a solid Colts squad that makes the opposition work for everything.

“They don’t mind bunting to get a hit, and they’re pretty good at it from what I’ve heard,” Nusser said. “They’ve got four pretty good arms to put out there that can throw in the 80s and have good offspeed pitches. We’re trying not to be concerned with who they’ve got pitching. We’ve got to do our own thing.”

KEVIN WILSON: Staff photo Ram outfielder Omar Legarda snags a throw during Tuesday’s practice.

KEVIN WILSON: Staff photo
Ram outfielder Omar Legarda snags a throw during Tuesday’s practice.

Nusser said he was still deciding between senior Daniel Sanchez and sophomore Grant Wagner to start the opener.

Semifinal winners will advance to the 12:30 p.m. Saturday championship at Isotopes Park, the site where the Rams claimed their first title in school history just two years ago. Only three players — Sanchez, Faust and junior outfielder Omar Legarda — remain from that team, but Nusser isn’t concerned about a lack of experience.

“When we’re in game 29, we’re all a year older, basically,” Nusser said. “I don’t think experience is going to be a problem.”