RIO RANCHO — Piedra Vista is heading back to the 4A baseball title game for the fifth straight year.
The Panthers put up seven runs in the top of the first inning on their way to an 9-1 victory against Albuquerque Academy on Friday at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho.
Kody Russell ripped a triple to lead off the offensive explosion and was immediately brought home by Matt Martin as the first eight Panthers reached base.
"I just got to third, and I was pumped," Russell said. "We started good this game, and I think that got us going."
Tyler Archuleta had a 2-run single, while Logan Klunder and Tray Franks also had RBI base hits for the Panthers in the inning.
Academy starting pitcher Cal Clatanoff allowed all seven runs and was relieved in the first inning without recording an out.
"It's a credit to our coaching staff's scouting," PV head coach Mike McGaha said. "We had paper on all their guys, including Clatanoff, and knew what their strengths and weaknesses were. Sometimes, that doesn't help, but today we came out and that was a little old school PV first inning stuff right there."
Phil Archuleta started on the mound, but had all the run support he needed before throwing a single pitch.
"He's a champion. He's a state champion wrestler, and he wanted the ball today," McGaha said. "You saw him go out all night and pound the zone. He got ahead of hitters and stood on the pedal when he needed to."
Archuleta picked up the win after a solid outing in which he allowed one run on five hits while throwing a complete game.
"I had a little cushion, so I just went out there and did my thing and threw strikes," he said.
The Chargers never mounted much of a threat against the PV starter, at one point retiring 11 straight Academy hitters.
The Panthers will advance to face No. 2 Goddard today at 3:30 p.m. in Isotopes Park.
"That's an incredible baseball team," McGaha said. "Things will go wrong and things will go well for both teams. Whoever handles it the best will win the ball game."
Goddard moved on after surviving an upset bid from No. 6 Farmington High 6-4 earlier in the day at Cleveland High School.
The Rockets jumped out to a 6-2 lead after four innings, thanks in large part to three runs from two FHS errors.
"That was the difference," FHS head coach Sean Trotter said. "It was one of those games you enjoy being a part of until it ends that way."
Tyler Stock got the Scorpions back in the game with a two-run home run to centerfield in the sixth inning to cut the lead to 6-4.
FHS had a chance in the seventh, getting the tying run aboard after Chris Moore reached on an error and Lance Lee walked with one out, but Beamer Wick and Stock struck out to end the Scorps rally.
"If you drew it up saying down two and those guys coming to the plate, you'd be happy to be in that spot," Trotter said. "They did a good job and made a couple pitches there."
One of the top FHS hitters all season, senior Ethan Spellbring, missed the game due to illness.
Trotter said it will be tough losing this senior class, which includes Spellbring, Wick, Lee, Stock and Austin Foutz.
"It's a small group. We started the year with a young team, and they did their job," Trotter said. "You couldn't ask for more."