FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista is riding a wave of momentum it picked up after defeating Farmington High in 10 innings for the District 1-4A title last Saturday.
That momentum translated into an 11-1 romping of No. 16 Bernalillo on Friday night during the first game of a best-of-three series to open the 4A baseball state tournament.
“I told the guys, this was our best performance of the year. We are not playing against the other team, we are playing against the ball and what the game gives us,” said PV head coach Mike McGaha. “We were steady on the mound, beginning to end. It was a good performance as a team as a whole.”
Ian Doughty was superb on the mound for the three-time defending state champion Panthers. In five innings, Doughty allowed only two Bernalillo hits. He struck out six and didn't issue a walk, though he did plunk two Spartans with pitches.
The Spartans (9-18) scored the game's first run in the top of the first inning. Bernalillo pitcher Izzy Chavarria was hit by the first Doughty pitch of the game and eventually scored on an RBI-single off the bat of Adam Chavez.
“It just kind of takes me awhile to get warm, and my confidence has been down for awhile because the last few starts I haven't commanded my fastball,” Doughty said. “After the first inning, I felt like I really commanded it. My changeup was good and, for the most part, my curve was really good. It gave me confidence and I definitely know I can fill up the strike zone and my defense will pick up everything they hit.”
PV (18-9) answered in the bottom half of the first with three runs.
Jeremy Johnson, who swapped positions in the batting order with Matt Martin, led off by getting hit by a pitch. Martin was then plunked before Jacy Cave laced a double to the left-centerfield gap to drive in Johnson and Martin.
It was one of two doubles by Cave that drove in two runs. He finished the game 2-for-3 with four RBIs. Cave's offensive onslaught was a continuation of the hot-bat he has been swinging for the last three weeks.
“This is what I have been working for the whole season, to peak right now,” Cave said. “Everybody wants to be hot in May.”
The Panthers added eight more runs in the bottom of the second inning. The inning was highlighted by a Zach Ahlgrim RBI-single, a Doughty RBI-single, a Matt Martin two-run double and a Tyler Archuleta double that plated two more runs.
“I think we got some momentum at the plate coming from (the Farmington High game) last week,” Cave said. “We need to keep it rolling. Never too high, never too low. We have to stay on the path.”
Doughty slammed the door the rest of the way on the Spartans and Bernalillo relief pitcher Josh Urban was effective against the Panthers the rest of the way to limit the damage.
The only excitement after the second inning came in the top of the fifth when Spartan freshman Daniel Jaramillo was ejected after making contact with Cave at first base.
Jaramillo hit a slow ground ball and a throw to first base drew Cave off the bag. Cave applied a tag on Jaramillo up the base line for the out, and Jaramillo was tossed for initiating a collision with Cave.
Following the ejection, a Bernalillo parent and a Bernalillo coach were also ejected from the game.
The two teams will meet again today at 1 p.m. in Game 2 of the series. Cave will start on the mound for PV.
The Panthers hope to collect another run-rule victory to gain more momentum going into the state quarterfinals next Thursday in Albuquerque.
“I am looking at getting a quality start to carry us into next week,” Cave said. “We hope to get another run-rule to carry into next week with a short week of practice before we go to Albuquerque.”
John Livingston can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.