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Final rounds of state baseball, softball tournaments underway


FARMINGTON — The Aztec High School baseball team took a giant step towards a Class 4A state championship on Thursday, eliminating Grants by a final score of 4-1. Meantime, the Farmington High School baseball team was eliminated in the Class 5A tournament, falling to top-seeded Carlsbad by a final of 8-1.

In state softball tournament action, both Piedra Vista and Aztec suffered losses in the quarterfinal round, which moved both teams into the consolation bracket and one loss away from elimination.

Here's a recap of baseball and softball tournament action from this week.

Baseball

CARLSBAD 8, Farmington 1

The Carlsbad High School baseball team broke open a close game with a four-run sixth inning, advancing to the Class 5A state baseball semifinals with an 8-1 win over Farmington on Thursday afternoon at the Santa Ana Star Field at the University of New Mexico.

The win sends top-seeded Carlsbad into the final four of the Class 5A tournament, where they will face fifth-seeded Hobbs, who eliminated fourth-seeded Organ Mountain on Thursday by a final of 5-1.

Junior Tristan Thomas and senior Nolan Perry led the Cavemen with a pair of 2-RBI base hits in the sixth inning, adding to their 4-1 lead and preserving the win.

Perry helped his own cause on the hill with a standout performance, pitching a complete game and striking out nine, limiting the Scorpions to just two hits and one walk.

The Scorpions, who came into the state tournament seeded ninth in the 16-team field, see their season come to an end with a record with an overall record of 20-8, finishing third in District 2-5A with a record of 6-4.

AZTEC 4, Grants 1

Ryan Ray hit a three-run home run in the top of the fifth inning, propelling the Aztec High School baseball team into the Class 4A semifinals with a 4-1 win Thursday over Grants in the state quarterfinals at Rio Rancho High School.

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The Tigers win sets up a Friday night semifinal game at the Santa Ana Star Field at the University of New Mexico against the top-seeded and defending Class 4A champion Albuquerque Academy, who eliminated Valley on Thursday by a final score of 4-2.

The Pirates led Aztec 1-0 heading into the fifth inning, guided by starting pitcher Nick Bustos, who threw a strong game before giving up the home run to Ray. Bustos struck out six and walked four before being relieved by Dominick Gonzales.

In addition to the game-winning home run, Ray was dominant on the mound, throwing 6 1/3 innings and striking out five, allowing only three hits and surrendering five walks before turning the final two outs over to Brandon Arellano.

Aztec added an insurance run with two outs in the top of the seventh inning when Elijah Wyatt singled in Ray on a 3-2 pitch, giving the Tigers a three-run lead.

The fifth-seeded Tigers are one win away from advancing to the state finals for the first time since 2004, when they lost the Class 4A championship to Deming.

Softball

CARLSBAD 2, Piedra Vista 1

PIEDRA VISTA 2, Roswell 0

The top-seeded Carlsbad High School softball team continued their journey towards a Class 5A state title, slipping past ninth-seeded Piedra Vista 2-1 in a Thursday morning quarterfinal match of the state tournament at Cleveland High School.

Carlsbad parlayed that win into a 10-0 rout over No. 4 seeded La Cueva later in the day, putting the Cavemen into a position where they can win the state title when they face 3rd seeded Alamogordo on Friday. The winner of that matchup enters the championship round with an unblemished record heading into the final round.

The double-elimination format of the tournament means both Piedra Vista and La Cueva can still reach the finals, by winning their consolation games on Friday morning. The Panthers will face fifth seeded Hobbs while La Cueva faces second-ranked Centennial.

In the opening game Friday to Carlsbad, the Panthers were limited to just four hits as Haiden Schoolcraft struck out seven hitters. Faith Aragon hit a solo home run to start the third inning, giving the Cavemen a 2-1 lead they'd never relinquish.

Piedra Vista assured themselves at least another game in the consolation round, shutting out 12th seeded Roswell by a final score of 2-0.

Emma Lovato struck out 16 batters in the win, allowing only three hits in the complete game decision. Akaysia Grogan and Reagan Werth each drove in a run during the top half of the fourth inning to earn the win.

Piedra Vista's consolation round game against Hobbs is a win-or-go home game, with the winner advancing to the championship round while the loser will see their season come to an end. 

GALLUP 14, Aztec 1 (5 innings)

Aztec 5, St. Pius X 4

The second-seeded Gallup High School softball team scored early and often in a 14-1 run-rule rout over Aztec in the opening game of the quarterfinal round of the Class 4A state tournament Thursday at Cleveland High School.

The Bengals then moved on in the tournament's championship bracket, beating third-seeded Silver by a score of 10-3 to advance to the championship round in the double elimination tournament. The Bengals will face fourth-seeded Lovington for the right to move on to the finals, where the winner would have an unblemished record in the finals and would only need to win once.

The Tigers, seeded seventh in the tournament, fell behind early to Gallup, surrendering five runs through the first three innings. 

Yanabah Harvey, Chaylee Becenti, Katherine Lincoln and Seniah Haines each drove in a pair of runs during the rout, in which Gallup blew the game wide open with a six-run fifth inning to preserve the run-rule final.

In the consolation round, Aztec bounced back with a 5-4 win over sixth-seeded St. Pius X, eliminating the Sartans from the tournament and keeping their own championship hopes alive.

Aztec scored three runs in the top of the first inning, thanks to RBI base hits by Lacie Langford, Alexyn Candelaria and Elena Talamante.

The teams traded runs in the bottom of the third and top of the fourth innings before the Sartans rallied with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The game ended when Aztec starting pitcher Nizhoni Yellow got McKayla Cable to fly out to center fielder Tiahnna Phillips with the tying run on second base.

Aztec will have a chance to advance to the final round when they face Valley Friday morning at Cleveland High School. The winner moves on in the tournament while the loser will see their season come to an end.

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.