ALBUQUERQUE — The long ball carried Cleveland into the Class 5A New Mexico state baseball tournament championship game.
Christian Hoffman hit two home runs to lead third-seeded Storm to a 12-9 state semifinal victory over No. 7 Piedra Vista today at Santa Ana Star Field in Albuquerque.
Cleveland advanced to the Class 5A state championship at 11 a.m. Saturday at Isotopes Park, while PV's season ended 21-9.
Hoffman crushed Ross Martin's pitch over the right field wall to put Cleveland up 9-2 in the fourth inning.
Cleveland's Ethan Collins had a two-run home run against Martin during Cleveland's five-run second inning. Hoffman had a solo shot in the second inning, as Cleveland outhit Piedra Vista 17-11.
The Panthers cut the deficit to 11-9 entering the seventh inning, thanks to Jace Whalen's three-run home run to left field and Dawson Wells' RBI double. But it wasn't enough.
PV's Carson Davis was 2 for 3 with an RBI double.
Cleveland's Treston Shallenberger was 4 for 5 with two RBIs, while Christian Hoffman was 3 for 3 with four RBIs. Isaac Toledo was 3 for 3 with two RBIs.
Piedra Vista coach Jeff Kiraly on the Panthers' rally
"I always think we are going to win. I have a bunch of studs. These kids play their butts off. They are a competitive group."
Kiraly on how Cleveland built an early lead
"They are good. They got us and the wind was blowing out. That is baseball, but we did the same thing and almost came back. We just ran out of time."