Mike Powers| News-Bulletin photos
Belen fell to Artesia 14-7 in the 4A state quarterfinals Thursday in Albuquerque.
ALBUQUERQUE — In a game that saw wild swings, Artesia took the biggest swing to eliminate Belen in the quarterfinals of the 4A State Baseball Championships at Riordan Sports Complex.
The Eagles scored six times in the fifth inning to take the lead, but in their next at bat, the Bulldogs erupted for eight runs to pull away for a 14-7 victory.
BHS was not sharp early, victims of several mental miscues.
“Defensively, we made a couple of mistakes that we’re not used to making,” observed BHS coach Tom Wisneski.
Offensively, the Eagles left four runners in scoring position during the first four innings. A bright spot was a solo home run from Damian Avila in the second inning.
Meanwhile, Artesia was hitting the ball hard, including three solo home runs to help build a 7-1 lead.
“Some of the balls that went out early seemed like routine fly balls,” Wisneski said. “They put them where they needed to and we didn’t.”
However, after a pep talk from Wisneski, the Eagles finally found a groove at the plate. Luciano Gomez, Brysen Soiles and Angel Garcia each drove in a run, and when Christian Wilson launched a three-run blast over the left field fence, Belen was suddenly in front 7-6 after five innings.
“That was a pretty big moment for me, an exciting moment,” Wilson said.
However, the celebration did not last long. Artesia immediately answered with eight runs in the top of the sixth and advanced to the semifinals with a 14-7 victory.
The Eagles finish the season with a 20-8 record. Belen loses four seniors for next season — Gomez, Chavez, Kenny Trujillo and Tyler Martinez.
“I’m really proud of our seniors,” Wisneski said. “They gave us everything they had.”
Belen softball coach resigns
Shortly after Belen was eliminated from the 4A State Softball Championship last Friday, the Eagles found out they are losing their coach.
After eight seasons running the BHS softball program, Joe Duran has resigned as head coach.
“I am grateful for the opportunity and support coach Contreras (BHS athletic director Steve Contreras) and the Belen School District gave me these last eight years,” Duran told the News-Bulletin.
Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.