Tigers Travel to Portales for 1st Round Game
By Tony A. Archuleta
The Hot Springs varsity baseball team, a third place finisher in District 3-3A, is headed to the State Tournament for the second straight year.
The Tiger closed out the regular season with a league-play doubleheader Friday, April 27, beating visiting Hatch Valley 16-2 and 17-0.
HSHS finished behind Cobre and Silver, and ahead of Socorro and HVH.
The Tigers enter the state playoffs as a No. 14 seed and will travel to No. 3 Portales on Friday and Saturday, May 4-5, to take on the 20-6 Rams out of District 4-3A in a best of three series.
District champion Cobre, a No. 4 seed, will host No. 13 Taos in the first round.
Runner-up Silver is a No. 9 seed traveling to No. 8 Ruidoso; and fourth place finisher Socorro made the cut as a No. 16 seed headed to No. 1 St. Michaels.
While four of five teams in district are going to state, third-year Tigers head coach Anthony Flores said the general consensus among the league coaches is that 3-3A is a stronger district than what the seedings reflect.
“Cobre, I actually think is better than a 4 seed,” said Flores.
With Socorro’s prospects looking mighty bleak at St. Michael’s, it will be up to Silver and Hot Springs to pull off some playoff road wins to bolster the district’s profile.
Hot Springs (11-15 overall, 5-7 district) appears to have nearly as equally a daunting task at District 4-3A champ Portales, which finished 5-1 in league play.
“All I know is they have a good pitcher,” Flores said early Monday. “I’ll find out a little bit more about them shortly.”
Hot Springs played Cobre close in one encounter this year, falling 3-0, and losing to Silver by a single run.
“If we play defense, I think we’ll be all right,” Flores said of the Tigers’ prospects this weekend against the Rams.
On offense, Flores said simply putting the ball in play should give his team a chance to pull off the upset.
With the switch to strictly wooden bats this season, over-the-fence homeruns have been a scarcity this season, with only Cobre and Socorro hitting one out of the yard against the Tigers.
Flores said that true to pre-season predictions, the new bat rule has been advantageous for Hot Springs, especially against big-hitting teams.
“It keeps us in ball games, that’s the best part of it,” he said.
The Tigers are looking to improve on last year’s state tournament appearance, which ended with a first round exit against Hope Christian in Albuquerque.