For the Portales High baseball team, the week that determines their playoff status depends on simple matters.
“Catch the ball, throw the ball, hit the ball,” as Ram coach Greg Hill explained after Monday’s practice.
The New Mexico Military Institute Colts would like to take the same approach when they host the Rams today in a District 4-3A doubleheader.
“I told the guys we’re going to live and die by our mistakes,” NMMI coach Charlie Ward said. “We’re going to make mistakes — I just hope we live through it.”
The Rams (14-6, 6-2 district) are second place, in between Lovington (12-7-1, 5-1) and the Colts (12-10, 5-3). Those standings will change after Tuesday night (Lovington plays Ruidoso in a doubleheader), and maybe on Wednesday as well.
Ward filed a protest with the New Mexico Activities Association in regard to one of the Colts’ Saturday contests at Lovington, a 15-14 loss in the nightcap.
Ward said that a two-run homer was disallowed after Lovington coaches argued that the Colts had made an illegal substitution. Ward said he had made a legal re-entry for the player that hit a fourth-inning homer that would have given the Colts a 12-10 lead, and also claimed that the Lovington coaches did not protest the homer until four more batters came up.
The Colts still have a home doubleheader May 4 against the Wildcats, and may have to resume the protested game from the fifth inning if the NMAA rules in their favor. Ward’s understanding was that a decision would be made by Wednesday.
“Basically, we’ve got to get past Lovington, protest or not,” Ward said.
The Rams also have to get past Lovington, but they’d like to get past the Colts as well. Hill said it was pretty simple for the Rams — win their last four and they win the district outright.
“We don’t have to worry about somebody splitting with somebody else to pick up a game,” Hill said. “It’s a four-game season.”
Tonight’s doubleheader will likely come down to pitching, and how each team’s starters recover from the innings they pitched Saturday. Hill feels good about Seth Clabaugh and T.C. Nusser, and is hopeful his team won’t “help (NMMI) with their pitch counts” on Tuesday.
Whatever the result, Ward doesn’t want the protest hanging over his team’s head.
“We’re getting ready for Portales,” Ward said. “That’s all that’s important. We know they’re good. We respect Portales like they respect us.”