ALBUQUERQUE — You don't have to be perfect. You just have to be good enough.
That was Piedra Vista head coach Mike McGaha's advice for his team all season.
On Saturday, the No. 1 Panthers were far from perfect, but they were definitely good enough to win the 4A baseball title, defeating No. 2 Goddard High 7-6 and capturing their fourth championship in five seasons at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque.
"Every year, it gets harder and harder to get back to this game," McGaha said. "It's really hard to put my thoughts together. My hat goes off to the kids. I'm a pretty hard guy to get along with most of the time, but they stuck with me, and here we are."
PV got big games from a few guys who know a thing or two about winning a championship.
Wyatt Weaver, Zach Ahlgrim and Philip Archuleta, who were all part of PV's 4A wrestling state title in February, came up huge in key moments.
Weaver made his second start in three days on the mound and threw five solid innings, allowing two runs, both unearned, to pick up the win.
"I pitched quite a bit yesterday, but my recovery time is cut in half because of what I do," Weaver said. "I just knew I had throw strikes and my defense would back me up."
Ahlgrim starred at the plate for PV, going 3-for-3 with a double and three RBIs, while Archuleta's two-run single in the second inning gave PV a lead it would never relinquish.
"It's an amazing feeling. I came up to the plate with a plan and looked for my pitch," Ahlgrim said.
The Panthers came out with some title game jitters in the first inning, committing two of their five errors.
Goddard's Cody French looped an RBI single into right field following the PV miscues to give the Rockets a 1-0 lead.
PV bounced back with a run in the bottom of the first inning when Ahlgrim's RBI double scored Matt Martin to tie the score 1-1.
Goddard took back the lead in the second with a run on a PV throwing error.
The Panthers bounced back with four runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Archuleta's two-run single was backed up by RBIs from Martin and Ahlgrim to give PV a 5-2 lead.
The Panthers added to the advantage in the fourth inning after back-to-back doubles by Kody Russell and Martin, followed by an Ahlgrim single, scored two for PV.
Weaver was relieved on the mound to start the sixth after hitting his 12-inning limit, and Goddard tightened the game up.
The Rockets scored twice in the top of the sixth on a single after relief pitcher Tanner Goodwin walked the bases loaded.
Goddard cut PV's lead to 7-6 in the seventh against Russell after a walk and triple led to a pair of runs, but the Panthers' closer induced a lazy fly ball to Weaver in center field for the final out, clinching the championship.
"There are no words to describe that feeling," Russell said of the last out. "I get chills just thinking about it. We came back for redemption this year. No one thought we could do it."
This title came one season after PV lost in the championship game to St. Pius X by the same 7-6 score they defeated Goddard on Saturday.
The Panthers came into the season without a power bat or a star pitcher, like they've been known for during their past title runs. But PV cobbled together a starting rotation and found a way to grind out enough runs through the year to emerge as champions.
"We're just good enough, baby. The Rat Pack lives," McGaha said of the nickname the team gave themselves throughout the year.