For the second consecutive year, the Estancia High School baseball team came up short in its quest to dethrone the defending state champion Texico Wolverines.
After getting past McCurdy in the state quarterfinals and Eunice in the semifinals, the No. 3 Bears lost 13-3 to the No. 1 Wolverines in the Class 2A state championship May 18 at UNM’s Santa Ana Star Field in Albuquerque.
“They’ve been state champs the last three years, this is now their fourth, and they’re tough to beat,” Estancia head coach Hamilton Doyle said of the Wolverines, adding, “They’re the kind of ball team that if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.”
The Bears surrendered a pair of runs to the Wolverines in the top of the first inning but responded in the bottom half of the frame when Preston Cantu drove in Drayton Oberg to make it a 2-1 ballgame.
An Estancia error helped the Wolverines score four runs in the third to push ahead 6-1.
In the bottom of the third, Cruz Moreno—who started on the mound for the Bears—drove in Oberg, and Cantu followed with an RBI single to drive in Moreno.
But that was all the scoring the Bears could muster.
Texico tacked on two runs in the fifth, another in the sixth, and four more in the seventh.
“We stuck around for a little bit and then they just took off,” Moreno said, adding, “We made it this far, we had a decent year.”
The day before the title game, the Bears fell behind the No. 2 Eunice Cardinals but rallied to win 13-5 in the state semifinals at Rio Rancho High School.
Eunice built an early 4-0 advantage before Moreno hit a two-RBI double in the third inning to bring in Eri Candelas and Drayton Oberg and cut the Cardinals’ lead to 4-2.
Both teams scored a run in the fourth inning.
Trailing 5-3 in the fifth, the Bears batted around the lineup and blew the game open with eight runs. Oberg and Josh Thomas capped the scoring surge with a pair of two-RBI doubles.
“We just played our hardest, left it all on the field, just had fun out there,” Oberg said. He relieved Jake Zamora on the mound in the third inning.
In the sixth inning, Garrett Noblitt hit a groundball that went through the legs of Eunice’s shortstop to bring in Cantu and Zamora to complete the Bears’ scoring.
Against the sixth-seeded McCurdy School Bobcats in the May 16 quarterfinals at St. Pius X in Albuquerque, Andrew Lujan pitched six innings and Estancia’s offense did the rest in an 8-2 victory.
“I was a little nervous at first, but I knew I had to do my job,” Lujan said.
The Bears scored in the first, third, fourth, and sixth innings.
After the championship loss, Doyle said the Bears had come “a long way” since the beginning of the season, finishing with a 21-5 overall record.
“I’m proud of my guys,” Doyle said. “They fought all season, it’s been a good year.”