Shiprock pitching didn’t have the issues with walks in had in Friday’s best-of-3 Class 3A state first-round series against Portales.
This time, the sixth-seeded Rams put the ball in play — early and often.
Portales, which received seven consecutive walks in a 10-run first inning on Friday, had a six-run, six hit first in this one and cruised to another five-inning win, 11-1, called because of the 10-run rule.
Stephen Sampson pitched four-plus innings for the win, leaving after a leadoff walk in the fifth. James Salgado then issued two more walks to load the bases, but got three consecutive fielder’s choice grounders to end it.
Meantime, junior shortstop David Rodriguez went 3-for-3 while Salgado, who played third most of the game, and Sampson each went 2-for-3. The Rams (17-11) meet third-seeded Hope Christian in an 11 a.m. quarterfinal game on Thursday at Volcano Vista H.S. in Albuquerque.
Rams coach Arturo Ontiveros was happy to see his team hit the ball.
“When you start hitting the ball to the right side and up the middle, it works out good,” he said. “It was good to see.”
Second baseman Brandon Lovato started the first inning with a double, his third extra-base hit of the series after he collected two triples in Friday’s win. The other five hits were singles, including RBI knocks by Rodriguez, Ryan Schmidt and Sampson.
“I normally just try to take as many pitches as I can,” Lovato said. “My main job is to get on base, but it feels great to start off the game with a double.”
Lee kept the Rams down until the fourth, when Salgado’s two-run double keyed a four-run rally.
Sampson allowed three hits and struck out three. His only walk came in the fifth. The Chieftains (15-8) scored in the fourth on a double by Brian Poyer and a single by Lee.
“Sampson does a good job,” Ontiveros said. “We usually have to make some plays for him, but he keeps these guys in the game.”
Hope Christian routed Hot Springs 13-3 and 18-1 in its opening series, and should present a stiff challenge.
The Rams advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since losing to Cobre in the 2008 state championship game.
“If we play, we’re capable of having a shot at it,” Ontiveros said. “It’s good to go in off a good win like this.”