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La Cueva baseball, softball reach metro championship games

Mar. 22—La Cueva's baseball and softball teams — who have a combined six shutouts between them this week — are joined by Sandia's baseball team and Volcano Vista's softball team as the Albuquerque Metro Championships in both sports reach their conclusion on Saturday.

All four won semifinal games on Friday.

The Bears will be home at 10 a.m. to district rival Sandia in the baseball final. At noon at the Los Altos Complex, La Cueva's softball team will face Volcano Vista.

BASEBALL: No. 2 Sandia held off No. 3 Rio Rancho 5-3, while at La Cueva, the top-seeded Bears' pitching continues to sparkle following a 5-0 victory over No. 5 Cleveland.

At Sandia, for four innings, Sandia senior right-hander Zach Kmatz and Rio Rancho sophomore lefty Dean Ellison were involved in a pitchers' duel.

"These are the fun games," Kmatz said.

It was the Matadors who found a solution first, and it was the bottom of their lineup that sparked rallies in both the fifth and sixth innings.

In the fifth, Santiago Casaus, in the 8 hole, walked, and Eli Healy followed with a single. Next was Adriel Figueroa-Brito, whose third hit of the day, a double to left-center, scored both runners.

"I think it was just putting together good at-bats, playing team-first baseball, passing the torch," Figueroa-Brito said. "The next guy is gonna do something."

Sean Vigil's RBI single in the top of the sixth for Rio Rancho cut the deficit in half, and the Rams had the bases loaded before Kmatz got a ground ball to end the inning.

In the bottom of the sixth, Casaus scored a run with a bases-loaded walk, and Healy drove home two more runs on a single for a 5-1 lead.

Casen Savage ripped a two-run homer for the Rams in the top of the seventh before reliever Levi Brooks closed out Rio Rancho.

Kmatz, the Oregon State signee, improved his record to 2-0.

"I just knew I could go out there and beat them, make quality pitches and get them out," Kmatz said. "It's kind of nerve wracking when we go four innings, five innings, without scoring a run, but (our offense) turns it on at the right time."

At La Cueva, it was Dylan Blomker who shined for the Bears, throwing a two-hitter while the Bears (7-1) scored five of their six runs in the second inning against Cleveland (10-2). Blomker (2-0) struck out seven.

"He did a good job of commanding the zone and throwing multiple pitches for strikes," La Cueva coach Gerard Pineda said. "Everything you want a pitcher to do."

In the second inning, the Bears sent 10 batters to the plate and rapped out seven hits — four of the infield variety. Evan Lane's RBI triple highlighted the rally for La Cueva.

SOFTBALL: La Cueva was sharp in a 6-0 victory over Cibola in the early semifinal Friday at the Los Altos complex. Just before 9 p.m. Friday, after 3 1/2 hours, Volcano Vista finished off a grueling 14-8 win over Rio Rancho.

Junior Lily Montoya of La Cueva (8-3) went the distance in the circle, giving up just four hits to a Cibola team that had scored 17 runs the night before. Montoya struck out 11 batters.

Addisen Byers had a two-run single in the fourth inning to help the La Cueva offense. Toni Lucero added two hits and a run for the Bears.

Volcano Vista slowly amassed a 13-4 lead on Rio Rancho before the Hawks eventually put away their District 1-5A rivals.

Naveah Ortiz homered in the win for Volcano Vista (4-6). Shortstop Sixx Arnold was 4-for-4 with three RBIs, while Ortiz was 3-for-3.

Gary Herron of the Rio Rancho Observer contributed the La Cueva-Cleveland baseball information for this story.