Albuquerque Baseball Academy ready to compete in Connie Mack World Series

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON − Being one of four automatic qualifiers for the Connie Mack World Series, the head coach of the Albuquerque Baseball Academy knows there's a certain level of expectations attached to that distinction.

Tim Campos brings in a very talented team of baseball players from across the state of New Mexico, including local product Zach Raichel, as well as neighboring states like Arizona and Texas, and as far away as Alabama. He said he feels the team is ready to meet those expectations.

"I think we've got a very balanced team, one that will go out there and compete for everything," Campos said. "I'm real happy where this team is coming up to the series."

The ABA, with a record of 16-4-1 this summer, most recently wrapped up a perfect 5-0 record in a tournament in Oklahoma City last week, earning the championship with a dramatic 4-3 win over the Oklahoma Drillers last Sunday.

Adrien Martin, from Sandia High School, was the hero of the championship game, driving in a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for the win over the Drillers. During his 4-year-career at Sandia High School, Martin recorded a .355 batting average with nearly 60 runs batted in.

Farmington High's Zach Raichel delivers a pitch in the top of the fourth inning in the first game of a district doubleheader against Piedra Vista, Saturday, April 30, 2022 at Ricketts Park.

A recent commit to the University of New Mexico, Martin has also been a solid contributor on the mound. At Sandia High School, Martin has a career earned run average of 2.65 and recorded 30 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched during his senior season, in which the Matadors had a record of 29-7 and lost in the Class 5A state finals to Carlsbad.

With the ABA this season, Martin has played in 20 games, with a batting average of .438 and 21 RBI's.

Martin is joined on the ABA roster this season by Sandia High teammate Jordan Martinez, who's also had a very productive campaign.

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Martinez, who also recently committed to UNM, appeared in 78 games in four seasons at Sandia High, earning a .364 batting average as well as 81 strikeouts on the mound during the past two prep seasons.

For the ABA, Martinez has a .333 batting average this season and is the second leading scorer on the team with 14 runs.

"Those two guys have really stepped up for us on the mound this summer," Campos said. "They're both such work horses and they've really come up with some big moments for us."

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The ABA, along with the Midland (Ohio) Baseball team, the Southern California Renegades and the D-Bat United squad from Dallas, Texas, were named earlier year as the four automatic qualifiers for the Connie Mack World Series. Though having never won the CMWS, the inclusion of the ABA as an automatic qualifier speaks volumes for the quality of baseball being played throughout the state of New Mexico.

"It's really a privilege to be in the same category as those other teams, but it's a well-earned one," Campos said. "There's some really good players in this region and we've gotten to see many of them at their best this season."

The ABA, which has been in operation for more than a quarter-century, recently celebrated the notoriety of having one of their most recent alumni, Jacob Berry, being selected by the Miami Marlins with the sixth pick in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft.

Berry, who just finished his most recent season as Louisiana State University, joins Alex Bregman, Mitch Garver, Blake Swihart and Sam Haggerty as former ABA stars who have gone on to play in the MLB. Berry posted a .370 batting average last season with 15 homers and 48 RBIs in 53 games for the Tigers this season. 

Taylor Drake, shown here pitching for the Los Alamos High School baseball team, is one of the leading pitchers on the Albuquerque Baseball Academy.

"Berry played for us in 2019 out of high school in Arizona," Campos said. "We're very proud of what he's been able to accomplish."

Also joining the ABA roster this season is Farmington High standout Zach Raichel, who wrapped up his senior season with the Scorpions winning seven games on the hill.

Raichel is one of the leading pitchers on the ABA this season, who along with Taylor Drake from Los Alamos High School, have recorded 22 strikeouts and an earned run average of 2.37 through 20 innings.

"He's got a couple pitches that just work so well," Campos said of Raichel. "He's given us some very valuable innings this season and I know he's ready for more."

The ABA will open their pool play schedule on Friday at 1:30 p.m. at Worley Field against an opponent still to be determined, according to the CMWS website. That game will be followed by a 5:30 p.m. game on Friday at the Farmington Sports Complex against the Renegades.

On Saturday, the ABA will continue their pool play competition with a game scheduled for Ricketts Park at 9:30 a.m.

For more tournament coverage, check out the official website at CMWS.org.