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By Arnie Leshin 
Surprise, surprise. Go figure.
Bur what figured to be top-seeded St. Michael’s and 2nd-seeded Albuquerque Sandia Prep moving into the semifinals of the state 3A baseball tournament turned into an unexpected flip-flop.
While the Horsemen and Sundevils packed their gear for what amounted to season finals at Rio Rancho Cleveland Thursday, Santa Fe Indian School bounced back, 8-5, after losing all three times to St. Michael’s during the regular season, and the third District 2 team still in the hunt, Raton, stunned Sandia Prep, 4-3.
So with this surprise double reversal, with the buses backing up for the two favorites, the 8th-seeded Baves bring a 17-12 overall record to Friday’s semifinals against 5th-seeded East Mountain, which rolled over 4th-seeded Robertson, 16-2, and is 18-7 overall.
With St. Michael’s starting Rahul Williams on the mound, the Braves struck quickly with six runs in the top of the first inning. The Horsemen answered with one run in the bottom half, but were down 8-1 after three frames before scoring two runs each in the sixth and seventh innings. SFIS collected a dozen hits and St. Michael’s 10.
Elijah Sisneros, who was originally scheduled to start on the hill for St. Michael’s while No. 1 pitcher Owen Gruda was being saved for the semifinals or even the finals, relieved Williams to start the second and did well throwing 87 pitchers and striking out four.
Horsemen senior Derek Martinez went 2-for-3 in his final game with St. Michael’s. He also played on the football and basketball teams and competed in track and field.
For Indian School, the big blow came in the bottom of the order in the key first frame as No. 7 batter Jeremy Martrinez lined a 2-run single to centerfield that brought a 3-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Sandia Sundevils who had defeated East Mountain three times in the regular season, had their season come to an abrupt half. They took a 2-0 lead after the first inning, but back came Raton with three in the top of the third. The Tigers added another run in the fifth, Sandia Prep countered with one its own in the last of the frame, but that was it, with both teams going scoreless for the final result. Raton had eight hits, the Sundevils 9.
Said Tigers’ head coach Tony Giarcomo: “I don’t know how we found this big-time stretch run that was our fifth straight, but most of these guys were also on our football team that fell short after winning district. So in this case, our record isn’t all that great, but it doesn’t matter when you get this far.”
Senior Matthew Quartieri led the way with a pair of hits, one a double that drove in two of the second inning runs. It followed a single and stolen base from senior Chance Middlebrook, and in the fifth, senior Tre Ortega walked with one out, took second on a ground out by senior Dylan Quartieri, and sped home on single up the middle from Matthrew Quartieri.
Raton and East Mountain had met once during the season and the Tigers won 11-9, in non-district play. Against Indian School, the Tigers lost 2-of-3, but now it’s a new ball game, what transpired before doesn’t count, and that includes the previous Raton contest against the Timberwolves.
So it’s two District 2 teams remaining and seeking Saturday’s championship game at University of New Mexico’s Santa Ana Star Field. Only East Mountain and NMMI stand in the way.
As for Robertson being dominated by East Mountain, its head coach Leroy Gonzalez wasn’t in too good a mood.
“Well,” he said, “what do you expect when you go eight (expletive) days without practicing?” It’s just like anything else when you take eight days off after doing it every day for a few months — you struggle.”
Sorry coach, but the damage of the wildfires near Las Vegas also hampered other teams in the area who had difficulty holding practices.

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