The Floyd Broncos are anxious for another shot at Gallup Catholic.
Floyd reached the Class 1A state baseball championship game last year, only to lose to the Panthers 10-1. The teams collide again in a 2 p.m. semifinal game today at Lobo Field on the campus of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
Broncos coach Darwin Chenault said his team expects to face hard-throwing senior right-hander Ryan Nichols, who teamed with the graduated Taylor Jones on a five-hitter in last year’s matchup.
Gallup Catholic (13-6), seeded third this year after being the No. 1 seed in 2010, isn’t as deep a team this season, Chenault said, but he added that Nichols is one of the better pitchers in Class 1A.
“They’ve still got their big, good pitcher,” he said. “He’s a stud. He’ll throw in the mid-to-upper 80s, and he’s got a really good curveball and changeup.”
Four of the Panthers’ losses have come against larger schools — two to Class 4A Miyamura and one each to 4A Grants and Class 2A Laguna Acoma.
Gallup Catholic avenged an earlier loss this season in the quarterfinals, beating Questa 3-2 despite stranding 14 baserunners.
Floyd (16-7), seeded second, returns six players from last year’s team, but will be without senior pitcher-shortstop J’Kobie Lee for at least today’s game due to disciplinary reasons. Chenault said Lee could be available in the finals if the Broncos advance.
Lee won the Broncos’ first-round game against Elida last week and would probably have started on the mound in this one. Instead, junior pitcher-shortstop Caleb Martin is expected to get the nod.
“He’s definitely capable,” Chenault said of Martin. “Him and J’Kobie are about even as pitchers.
“We’re just going to try to throw a lot of strikes, let them put the ball in play and see what happens.”
Chenault said the Broncos will miss Lee’s bat. Junior Reyes Chavez will move from second base to shortstop, a position he played earlier in the season.
The first semifinal, at 11 a.m., matches Capitan against McCurdy. The winners play at 12:30 p.m. Thursday for the title at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque.