In its quest to secure a district title and a high seed at the state tournament, East Mountain High School’s baseball team only needed to win one game in its April 4 doubleheader against the visiting Dexter Demons.
The Timberwolves (19-7) went one better by sweeping the district-rival Demons 9-1 and 7-4, clinching the District 4/5-3A crown and earning the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Class 3A state tournament—the highest seed for the T’Wolves in six years.
“Once we won the first game it was over because we had the tie-breaker on NMMI,” East Mountain head coach Dave Naylor said about winning district.
The sweep closed out the T’Wolves’ regular-season on an eight-game winning streak.
In the first game, Logan Harland’s sacrifice fly scored Colby McCall to give East Mountain an early 1-0 edge.
In the top of the fourth inning, Will Merkey misplayed a fly ball down the right field foul line that allowed Dexter to score its only run of the game.
But Merkey redeemed himself in the home half of the fourth with a two-RBI double to the right field gap—an opposite-field hit for a right-handed hitter.
“I was a little down about [the error],” Merkey said. “Luckily I was able to come up and drive an RBI so it was a good way of getting it back. I was happy to get an oppo to the right side, an oppo-taco.”
Caleb Martin followed with a two-RBI base hit to extend the T’Wolves’ lead to 5-1.
Tommy Morgan’s RBI single in the fifth inning gave the T’Wolves a 6-1 advantage. He pitched the complete game and struck out seven Dexter batters.
“I just threw a bunch of off-speed [pitches] the whole time.” Morgan said.
The T’Wolves iced the game in the sixth when McCall’s second double of the game drove in Merkey, Cole Phillips’ base hit brought in Martin, and Harlan’s RBI single to right field scored McCall.
In the second game, Dominik Chavez started on the mound for the T’Wolves. His RBI double drove in Harlan for the first run.
Dexter tied the game in the top of the second inning, but a Demons’ error at third base in the bottom of the frame brought in Merkey and Ross Amestoy to give the T’Wolves a 3-1 lead.
In the fourth inning, Phillips scored on a balk before Morgan’s two-RBI double drove in Harlan and Chavez. It was Morgan’s second double of the day.
“I was just happy because before that hit I was sitting at 29 RBIs and I really wanted 30 this season, so it’s like a personal milestone,” Morgan said.
Morgan scored the fourth run of the inning on a squeeze bunt by Merkey.
Chavez pitched five innings, fanning eight Dexter batters. Harlan relieved Chavez to close out the game.
After the twin bill sweep, Naylor speculated that East Mountain would be No. 2 in the upcoming state tournament. The next day the NMAA awarded the Timberwolves with the second seed.
“It’s more games here,” Naylor said.
East Mountain hosts the No. 15 Raton Tigers in the first round of the tournament, May 10-11, in a best two-games-out-of-three series. It will be the first state tournament game at the T’Wolves’ home field since 2014, and the first time in school history East Mountain’s baseball team will host a three-game state tournament series.
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.