Experienced Rockets too much for Eagles
Experience ended up the key as Roswell Goddard swept the youthful Belen High School baseball team in two straight games for the Class 4A State Baseball Tournament's best 2-of-3 series last weekend.
The 2nd-seeded Rockets beat the Eagles 11-1 in Game 1 Friday afternoon and followed that up with an equally dominating 9-1 win in Game 2 Saturday morning to end Belen's season.
The Rockets advance to this weekend's single-elimination portion of the tournament in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque. The Eagles finish the season at 11-14.
Belen head coach Steve Contreras called last weekend's series "a tough matchup."
"They (Goddard) are a senior loaded team – very experienced, very talented – and we went up there with a real young team," he said. "But it was good for our young boys to get experience with a team like that."
Contreras said Game 1 started badly, with starter C.J. Newey issuing two walks and the Rockets taking quick advantage.
"I think our guys were a little bit shell-shocked being in a play-off atmosphere," said Contreras. "We had a lot of guys in their first play-off game. Their experience in being in big game and the playoffs was a key.
"Our guys had never really been there," he said"
The Eagles seemed to settle down overnight and came back focused in Game 2 Saturday morning and took an early 1-0 lead into the bottom of the third inning. But again, badly timed walks doomed Belen as the Rockets scored repeatedly from there on to earn the 9-1 win.
"It was a pretty competitive game but in that inning we walked the bases loaded, and that was the difference in the game," Contreras said. "It came back to haunt us."
Despite the loss, Contreras said he was happy with the season, which saw a lot of underclassmen get playing time on the varsity level.
"We only had two seniors on our roster and only one started, so we have a lot of experience coming back," he said. "This season was a big building block for our guys.
"We got a taste of what it is to be in the playoffs," he said. "Hopefully we can take the next step and build on what we started this year."