Valencia clinches third place in District 6-4A

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The Valencia baseball team sure is turning the odometer on the old school bus.

Last Thursday, the Jaguars travelled to Roswell for a doubleheader against Goddard, then came back and headed straight to Grants to finish off the regular season with a 12-6 victory last Friday.

By beating the Pirates, VHS clinched third place in District 6-4A and a 13-seed in the state playoffs that begin Friday.

And yes, the Jaguars will be on the road again, heading to Santa Teresa for a best of 2-of-3 series, with the survivor advancing to the round of eight next week in Albuquerque.

That’s a lot of miles for a college team, let alone a high school squad, coach Carlos Carrasco admitted.

“They were pretty tired” against Grants, he said.

But Valencia turned in a strong performance and Colton Hall even clubbed the team’s first homer of the season.

It was an important victory, Carrasco said, because with Belen winning earlier in the day, it put the pressure on the Jaguars to match that result.

“I knew the top-three teams in the district would be automatic,” he said. “But I wasn’t sure if a fourth one would be in. We had to win that game to get third place and get in. So that definitely made it a big win.”

Valencia relied on Garret Garcia on the mound and he pitched strong through six innings before faltering some in the seventh. By then, the Jaguars had already built up a 12-3 lead.

“He was cruising,” Carrasco said. “Then they hit a couple of singles and we had some plays, and they had some base knocks. But he gutted it out and finished out the inning.”

Hall carried the big stick for the Jaguars, going 3-for-5, with a double to go along with his home run, three runs and three RBIs. Anthony Gonzales went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a triple, three runs and three RBIs.

Now the Jaguars face 4-seed Santa Teresa (21-5), a team they beat in the playoffs last season.

“I don’t know a whole lot about them, but we’ve got an eye on them at a tournament earlier this year,” Carrasco said. “They were very impressive. They’re a good ball club. They’re a well-coached team that plays hard.”

As the scouting reports come, Carrasco said he will decide on his pitching rotation, with Garcia, Gonzales and Tyler Klein all expected to see action.

“We’re still waiting to get a little more information so we can see who the best matchups are,” the coach said.