RIO RANCHO — The top-ranked Piedra Vista baseball team advanced to the 4A state semifinals.
The Panthers got a couple of key hits from Kody Russell and a solid start on the mound from Wyatt Weaver on their way to a 5-2 victory against No. 9 Deming on Thursday at Cleveland High School.
PV head coach Mike McGaha said he knew a couple of his players were going to have to come up with big plays at the right moments.
"I told them, 'You don't have to be perfect. You just have to be good enough,'" McGaha said.
Russell came up with the hit that put PV up for good in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The senior outfielder laced a two-out triple down the right field line that scored a pair of runs, putting PV up 4-2.
"That felt so good. The second I hit that and got to third, I knew the momentum had shifted," Russell said.
Russell then came around to score after stealing home as part of a double steal.
Weaver threw a complete game to get the victory on the mound for the Panthers.
"My teammates picked me up out there," Weaver said.
The junior took a couple of innings to get settled in his first playoff start, but he eventually found his rhythm as Deming recorded just one hit over the final three innings against the knuckleballer.
"Wyatt's been our guy. We've won 20 games, and he's won about a third of them," McGaha said. "He wasn't as sharp as he had been on other days, but today was a different scenario, and he handled it well."
Tanner Goodwin got the PV offense going in the first innings with a two-out double to put Panthers up 1-0.
Deming tied the game in the top of third inning, but PV responded in the bottom half of the inning with an RBI double by Russell to score Phil Archuleta.
PV will advance to the 4A semifinals, where the team will face No. 5 Albuquerque Academy.
Academy defeated No. 4 Valencia 5-2 in its quarterfinal matchup and already owns a victory against PV this year, defeating the Panthers 7-1 on April 12 at Ricketts Park.
"Academy already put it on us pretty good one game," McGaha said. "It's definitely going to be a challenge."