East Mountain High School’s baseball team made history May 9 in the opening round of the Class 3A state playoffs.
The No. 2 Timberwolves (21-7, 10-2) hosted their first-ever best-of-three series in a state tournament and wrapped it up in the first two games by sweeping a doubleheader over the visiting No. 15 Raton Tigers, 9-3 and 12-1.
With the win, the T’Wolves advance to their first state quarterfinals in six years.
The series was originally scheduled to begin with a single game May 10 and continue May 11. Due to impending stormy weather the schedule was changed to a May 9 doubleheader with a possible if-necessary game slated for May 11.
Under cloudy and cold conditions with a persistent wind blowing in from the outfield, the T’Wolves broke a 1-1 tie in the third inning of the first game with a four-run spurt that was buoyed by Dominik Chavez’ RBI double to the left field corner. Chavez had three RBIs in the game.
Colby McCall added another East Mountain run in the fourth and the T’Wolves iced the victory with three runs in the sixth.
Tommy Morgan pitched six innings, giving up three runs on five hits and struck out six Raton batters. Logan Harland relieved Morgan in the seventh and sent the Tigers down in order.
In the nightcap, the T’Wolves plated four runs in the second inning and broke the game open with eight runs in the fourth.
Ross Amestoy had a pair of RBIs and Will Merkey scored three runs.
The game ended after the top of the fifth on the 10-run mercy rule.
Chavez pitched five innings giving up a run on four hits. He fanned six Tigers.
“The kids played pretty good,” East Mountain head coach Dave Naylor said. “We put the ball in play, we got runners on base when we needed them, we hit the ball the opposite way a lot and that was great to see.”
But Naylor added that his team has to “clean up a couple of things” before the next round.
“We were throwing the ball around a little bit and you just can’t do that,” Naylor said. “Hopefully we’ll be ready and see another district opponent.”
The doubleheader was the first time the T’Wolves had hosted a state tournament game since 2014. It was the team’s first playoff victory since beating Mesa Vista in the opening round of 2013.
The T’Wolves now advance to the single-elimination 3A quarterfinals and will face the winner of the series between the seventh-seeded New Mexico Military Institute and No. 10 Sandia Prep. Both are district rivals that East Mountain has faced—and beaten—this year. The quarterfinal game will be May 16 at 10 a.m. at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho.
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.