Academy rally ends season for Valencia

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Sometimes one at-bat can change the complexion of a game. That was the case in the sixth inning of the No. 4 seeded Valencia quarterfinal match up against the Albuquerque Academy on Thursday in the Class 4A Baseball Tournament at Cleveland High School.

The No. 5 seeded Chargers looked to be done in the sixth inning when pitcher Alex D’Arrezo appeared to pick off an Academy runner at first base. But the first-base umpire called the runner safe, to the loud objection of the Jaguar faithful in the stands. D’Arrezo was called for a hit batter on the next at-bat to load the basses.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: VALENCIA THIRD BASEMAN Garret Garcia slings the ball to first during the VHS’ 5-2 loss to Academy in the Class 4A State Baseball Tournament in Rio Rancho.

Then the Chargers got a double to left field with the bases loaded that brought two runners in. Academy added another RBI on the next at-bat to take a 5-2 lead and struck out twice in the top of the seventh to end the game and eliminate Valencia from the post-season.

“It’s baseball, that’s what happens,” said VHS coach Carlos Carrasco of the two plays. “But you have to tip your cap to Academy. They played well and fought well. They’re a good team. They deserve to win as much as we did.”

It was a bitter end for the Jaguars, who finished the season at 21-9, having captured their second District 6-4A championship in three years.

Things started off well for the Jaguars in the first inning as they got on the board to start the game.

Junior Jose Galaviz got on base with a triple.

Galavia hit the ball to right field, got past the runner, a triple followed by a fielder’s choice that allowed Galaviz to score. Junior captain Carlos Ramirez reached base with a single on the next at bat and scored when Junior Garret Garcia doubled down the line to put Valencia up 2-0 going into the bottom of the first inning.

Things began to change in the bottom of the second inning when Academy took advantage of a Valencia error to get their first run of the game.

“We had control of the game,” Carassco said. “(Josh) Baca was throwing great. We had a two run lead. Then we had a couple of critical errors that they took advantage of and that was it.”

Senior Tyler Kline agreed.

“They had big plays and hit the ball in clutch spots and we didn’t execute in some spots,” he said.

Academy took advantage of another mistake in the fourth inning when Baca hit a batter with a pitch, which was followed by a double that brought home a run to tie the game.

Carassco said solid early hitting, which produced five hits for the game, dried up later in the game for VHS.

“After the first time through, credit to their pitcher, he changed the way he was throwing to us and we didn’t adjust,” he said. “We lacked the adjustment and that’s why we stopped scoring runs. We failed to make adjustments and that cost us the game.”

Despite the loss, Carrasco said he was proud of his team, many of whom committed to off-season workouts.

Kline, who said the team worked hard and bonded in the off-season and through the playing together, said he thinks the program will continue to improve.

“I have high hopes and hope they really go far,” he said. “I can see them going all the way.”

Seniors Josh Baca and Tyler Kline were both named to the South 4A/5A All-star team.

The two will play in the North/South All-Star Classic series June 13-14 ap Apodaca Park in La Cruces.