NMMI Sports Press
The Colt baseball team (9-17) squeaked into the AAAA state baseball playoffs with a No. 16 seed, meaning they’ll travel to Albuquerque Friday and Saturday to face defending champ and No. 1 seed Sandia Prep (22-4) in a two-out-of-three game match.
But despite the disparity, NMMI coach Charlie Ward thinks his team can play with the powerhouse.
“I believe it’s going to be competitive,” he said. “It’s going to be low scoring and I believe we have a chance. We’ve just got to play good baseball and support our pitchers.”
Ward knows the ’Devils will be tough.
“They’re solid one through nine,” he said. “They have athletes. They play the game of baseball the way it’s supposed to be played. They have very good pitching. You have to play the best sometime in the state tournament and we’re going to get a chance early.”
While he won’t be pitching, Ward believes the return of Gavin Maloney from the injured list will give the Colts a big confidence boost. Ward credits the sophomore with helping NMMI to a victory over AAA top seed Texico last Saturday.
“He’s one of our leaders,” the coach said. “He’s one of our top hitters. He’s going to play first base. The team all knows we’re a better team with Gavin in the lineup, so that’s a big boost of confidence. And I think that (return) made each player’s confidence and ability rise. They feel more positive as a team.”
With Maloney in the infield, Ward will stick with the pitching lineup he’s used since district: Eli Aguilar in Game 1 and Michel Hinojos Game 2.
“Then if necessary, we’ll let the chips fly and figure it out, but we’re focused on Game 1,” Ward said. “Eli will probably go against their big lefty, 6-foot-5 Beau Williams, or they’ve got another 6-2 lefty. They’ve got pitchers, but we’ve just got to compete and back our defense up and do the little things right as a team.”
Ward doesn’t expect the Colts to get many hits off Sandia Prep. They just have to take advantage of the opportunities they’re given.
“Runs are going to be limited,” he said. “In situational hitting, you’ve got to execute, when you’re given the opportunity. We expect it to be low scoring.”
And, he said, coming in as the 16 seed means there’s no pressure on the Colts.
“We’re 9-17, but honestly we believe we’re a lot better than that,” Ward said. “We believe we’re in the top 10, but with the injuries and all that, that’s life. It is what it is. We have confidence they’re not going to be seeing a 16 seed. They’re going to be seeing a team that will play. And these kids believe that. So we’re going to get at it and battle and we have no pressure on us. The pressure is on them, being state champs. Hopefully our kids will play hard, play loose and have fun. We’re hoping for positive memories.”
Game 1 is set for Friday at 5 p.m. at Sandia. Game 2 will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, with Game 3, if necessary, to follow immediately after.