East Mountain started the 3A baseball state playoffs the same way it ended the regular season—with an outburst of offense.
The No. 5 Timberwolves hosted the No. 12 Hatch Valley Bears in a best-of-three series May 6-7 and routed the visitors 14-1 in the first game and 19-2 in the second. A big third inning in both games was the key to success for the T’Wolves.
In the May 6 opener, East Mountain broke a scoreless tie in the third inning with a whopping 11 runs. Deshawn Torrez-Griego drove in Cooper Davis for the first run. Later in the inning, Gage Aucker drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double to the fence in left-center field.
“That was definitely my best hit all season,” Aucker said.
Torrez-Griego came up to bat for the second time in the inning and launched a three-run homer that bounced across La Madera Rd. “I just met the ball, and sure enough it went out,” he said, adding, “That one I knew was gone.”
The T’Wolves added three more runs in the fourth, two of them on Torrez-Griego’s double. He finished with six RBIs. Aucker drove in three.
Hatch Valley scored its only run in the top of the fifth before the game ended on the 10-run mercy rule.
After the game, East Mountain head coach Ray Demarest huddled with his team and asked, “What was our goal today?”
The players responded with a resounding, “Win today!”
In Game 2, East Mountain picked up right where it left off the day before. Torrez-Griego stole home in the first inning to get the T’Wolves on the board.
Cooper Davis’ sacrifice in the second inning drove in Evren Neal to give East Mountain a 2-0 lead.
The T’Wolves busted the game open with 10 runs in the third inning. East Mountain’s first five batters in the frame all scored. Later in the inning, consecutive RBI doubles by Trace Krueger and Cole Phillips, a bloop base hit to shallow right field by Garrett Hitchcock, and an RBI double by Tristen Nemitz gave the T’Wolves a 12-0 cushion.
“I finally got a ball down the middle, so I capitalized on it,” Krueger said.
Hitchcock added: “I’m more proud of the walks—I think I had four or five walks in the two games—I’m kinda proud of myself for that cuz I was swinging out of my shoes the last couple games so I was just trying to stay relaxed and not try to hit every ball out, and that blooper, I just got lucky on.”
Demarest said the 10-run third inning was a big turning point in the game.
“It was huge, it just took all the pressure off,” Demarest said. “When you have a big inning, they stop trying so hard, it makes it really easy for everybody offensively and defensively.”
Hatch Valley got on the board with a run in the top of the fourth.
East Mountain tacked on seven more runs in the home half of the frame with the help of Logan Aucker’s double and a three-run triple by Torrez-Griego.
Hatch added a run in the fifth before the game ended on the mercy rule.
Torrez-Griego and Nemitz both had four RBIs in the game.
With the first-round victory, East Mountain advanced to the 3A state quarterfinals to face No. 4 Robertson on May 12 at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho.