Horsemen again get 3A tourney bye, two-week break from play

May 5—It is the oft-pondered dilemma of every baseball coach: To bye or not to bye?

The top four seeds from classes 2A through 5A earned byes through the opening round of the state baseball tournament, but that leaves those teams waiting between 10 to 14 days — and sometimes longer — to play again.

When the New Mexico Activities Association revealed the brackets Sunday for those four classes, as well as the eight-team bracket in 1A, schools that received the bye began the process of mapping out their practice schedules to be ready for the quarterfinals May 16 in Albuquerque.

St. Michael's, seeded at No. 3, was the lone Northern team to earn a bye. The Horsemen, who have earned a top-four seed in each of the past five brackets, await the winner of the No. 6 Ruidoso-No. 11 Albuquerque Sandia Prep winner in the quarterfinals at the Jennifer Riordan Sparks Kindness Sports Complex.

The bye has not been kind to St. Michael's, which has lost in the quarterfinals in each of the previous four tournaments, although the 2021 tournament was an eight-team bracket during the coronavirus pandemic. Still, Horsemen head coach Augustin Ruiz said the challenge for his team is to maintain the edge that allowed it to finish 10-2 after a 7-7 start to the season.

"We're going to work on that, and that's all you can really do," Ruiz said.

Last year, Ruiz held various competitions with gift cards as rewards for the winners as a way to keep the competitive fire burning during the two-week layoff. It didn't work as intended when No. 11 East Mountain downed the No. 3 Horsemen 11-10 in the quarterfinals.

In 2022, St. Michael's was the top seed but fell to District 2-3A rival Santa Fe Indian School, which used a six-run first inning to catapult itself to an 8-5 win.

In 2021, Robertson scored seven runs in the seventh inning to erase a 5-4 deficit and win 11-7.

Ruiz said the Horsemen might use a combination of skill work and intrasquad scrimmages to keep their mental edge sharp. He mused he might even bring a few college-aged graduates to come in and compete with his varsity squad.

"Obviously, you can't reinvent the wheel and come up with new drills," Ruiz said. "Baseball's baseball. It's been that way since the dawn of time. At the end of the day, I tell our guys to be not only prepared physically, but you got to be mentally ready to play, too."

St. Michael's was one of four district teams to garner top-eight seeds for the 3A bracket. SFIS, the 2-3A runner-up, was fifth and will play No. 12 Zuni. Las Vegas Robertson nabbed the seven seed and will take on No. 10 Hatch Valley, while crosstown rival West Las Vegas is No. 8 and will host No. 9 Navajo Prep.

The first round in Classes 3A and above are best-of-three series, while Class 2A has a single-elimination format.

In 2A, McCurdy reached the postseason for the 18th straight season and earned the fifth seed in the process. First-year Bobcats head coach Ian Maestas said he was concerned about the team getting the fourth seed because that would mean a two-week break for his team.

Instead, they will take on No. 12 Mescalero Apache at home Wednesday afternoon, with the winner taking on No. 4 Albuquerque Menaul/Oak Grove Classical Academy on May 16.

Maestas said if his team was dealing with injuries, he might think twice about playing in the opening round.

"We're going into the game Wednesday fully healthy," Maestas said. "It's not like I need extra time to nurse some injuries. With that being said, we're in a good position to play well."

Pecos was the only other 2A program to make the postseason. The Panthers earned the ninth seed and will play District 6-2A rival Texico in an 8-9 matchup.

Los Alamos claimed the 11th seed in the 4A bracket and will travel to No. 6 Albuquerque Academy on Friday.


The Class 4A and 5A brackets were announced Sunday and Los Alamos was the lone Northern school to earn a postseason spot. The Hilltoppers, the 2-4A champions, were seeded 10th and will travel to No. 7 Aztec on Saturday for a spot in the quarterfinals in Rio Rancho.

Classes 1A/2A and 3A will have their 12-team fields announced Saturday, and all of those games will take place in Rio Rancho starting May 15.