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PV gets revenge on Artesia with 12-2 win

Jake Newby, and Karl Schneider
Farmington Daily Times
Piedra Vista's Logan Klunder makes a barehanded play at third base to get an out during a 4A state playoff game against Artesia on Thursday at St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque.
  • Every PV hitter reached base at least once in a 12-2 blowout win over Artesia.
  • Aztec came up short against St. Pius X, losing 5-2 and ending the Tigers' season.

ALBUQUERQUE — The Piedra Vista baseball team avenged last year's quarterfinal loss to Artesia in a major way this afternoon.

Last season, the eighth-seeded Bulldogs upset No. 1 PV 9-6 in the quarters. But it was a much different story in this year's rematch, as the No. 4 Panthers used a seven-run third inning to bury No. 5 Artesia 12-2 in just five innings at St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque.

PV (20-9) built a 2-1 lead through two innings of play, but more importantly, Panthers coach Mike McGaha said he saw weaknesses in Artesia's infield defense that he thought his guys could exploit.

"We found a couple weaknesses in their defense when we started putting balls on the ground — we noticed they weren't very mobile at first base," he said. "If we could get (Artesia first baseman Jharyss Granger) to have to field the ball, I felt like we could keep getting on, 'cause we run pretty well."

McGaha was right, as the Panthers small balled their way to an 11-batter inning and seven runs scored in the top of the third. PV recorded infield single after infield single in the game, a sight McGaha said he had seen plenty of times this season, just not from his team.

"Every single infield single you've seen go against us this year — which has been amazing — I think we got all of those back in one game," he said.

Artesia (14-14) didn't do itself any favors in the third, as it was a step slow fielding the ball, while committing one error and throwing a handful of wild pitches. Kyle DeWees helped the Panthers' cause with a two-RBI single as part of the back-breaking rally.

PV tacked on two runs in the fourth and another in the fifth. The Panthers gave one run back in the bottom of the fifth, but forced Artesia to strand Carlos Carrasco at second base to trigger the 10-run rule and lock up the second-round victory.

Piedra Vista's Elijah Gamboa celebrates with teammates after scoring a run against Artesia on Thursday at St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque.

Panthers starting pitcher Orlan Warren was efficient in a 54-pitch, complete-game effort. McGaha said Warren's defense did its job behind him.

"Tyler Mead made an exceptional play, Logan Klunder made two unbelievable plays over at third base, and Kyle DeWees made a backhanded play to throw a guy out from deep in the hole," he said.

As the winners of four straight games, PV will march into Friday's semifinal to play No. 1 Goddard (26-3) at Santa Ana Star Field in Albuquerque. The first pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m.

St. Pius X 5, Aztec 2

Aztec put together one of its best seasons in the last decade this year, but the Tigers’ saw it come to an end during the quarterfinals of the 5A state tournament.

Aztec jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on No. 3 St. Pius X, but the Sartans scored five unanswered runs to earn a 5-2 victory today at Eldorado High in Albuquerque.

"We had a great year. I don’t even know how to put it into words," Aztec head coach Wes Laplatt said. "We just really came together as a team. Even today, the kids weren’t upset that they loss, they were upset that they don’t get to play tomorrow. It’s a really close, tight-knit group. We probably spent close to a half hour hugging and talking after the ball game. I think that’s different than any other team I’ve been around over the years."

Aztec's Kyler Duggins pitches against St. Pius X on Thursday at Eldorado High School in Albuquerque.

The No. 6 Tigers got their two runs in the second inning, both coming from junior Spencer Heyden’s bat.

Aztec (20-8) maintained the lead through the third, but in the fourth a couple of errors led to a three-run inning for Pius.

"We were playing really well, and Kyler Duggins threw a great, great game. But defensively we didn’t make some plays to give (Pius) the lead," Laplatt said. "A couple mistakes let it get away from us."

Pius (19-8) added two more runs in the top of the seventh inning.

Heyden finished the day 2 for 2 with a walk to go with his two RBIs.

Aztec's Jake Taylor fields a ground ball against St. Pius X on Thursday at Eldorado High School in Albuquerque.

Aztec will lose seven seniors from this year’s roster, but the Tigers will return multiple underclassmen who were major contributors on both sides of the ball to provide Laplatt with a good core to build around.

"I think we have the blueprint to have success," Laplatt said. "The kids believe in the process and a team concept of helping each other rather than being selfish, and I think that will help us build what we need for the future."

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577. 

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.