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Demons look to hold on to tournament crown

March 22, 2019

It was not a good week for Ian Farris and E&G Baseball Academy, but Farris’ second job might help make it better.

Farris discovered Monday that somebody broke into the baseball academy he co-owns with George Dellos and stole a cellphone, a tablet, drill bits and $5 in cash. The business’s security camera caught video of the perpetrator, but it didn’t shed more light on the incident.

“[The images] weren’t the high quality we needed,” Farris said. “To be honest, it wasn’t worth it for them. They barely got maybe $100 or $200 in terms of street value.”

It turned out that Farris’ second job as the head baseball coach at Santa Fe High helped him and Dellos avoid a worse fate. Farris said he uses the company’s motion capture system and BLAST technology that helps record and break down players’ swing, throwing and fielding motions to help improve them, as well as a couple of radar guns with the baseball team.

“We had a lot of things that were very expensive that weren’t there because I’ve been taking it with me to the high school,” Farris said. “Now we know not to keep anything in there that we really value. Live and learn.”

What could help make the week better is if the Demons can defend the Jim Pierce Memorial Tournament title at the Christian Brothers Athletic Complex at St. Michael’s this weekend. Santa Fe High will start its journey with a first-round game against Albuquerque Sandia Prep at 11:20 a.m. Thursday.

If the Demons win, they will likely face the Horsemen, who play Wingate in a semifinal at 9 a.m. Friday. Augustin Ruiz, the St. Michael’s head coach, said he set up Thursday’s bracket that way because it is spring break for both schools and it should help get both of those games in before the weather turns sour. The National Weather Service’s forecast for Thursday predicts showed and thunderstorms throughout the day.

The afternoon games feature Bernalillo playing Raton at 1:40 p.m. and Cobre taking on Portales in the 4 p.m. finale.

“I ain’t gonna lie,” Ruiz said. “I did it so that I had the rest of the day to help get the field ready if we got some weather. So, I put us there so we can get our game out of the way and I could focus on the field conditions and get that stuff taken care of. With Santa Fe High and Sandia Prep, I just put them there out of courtesy.”

If both city teams play in the semifinal, it will feature two contrasting styles. The Demons are a solid-hitting squad, boasting a .271 team batting average and averaging 6.4 runs per game. They will go against a Horsemen pitching staff that has a 4.59 ERA in five games, four of which came against Class 4A schools and larger.

Farris identified defense and pitching as weak areas for Santa Fe High, while acknowledging that he lost almost half of his roster to graduation. While senior Manny Martinez gives the Demons an ace, the rest of the rotation as well as the bullpen is a work in progress.

“I am confident the defense and the pitching will catch up,” Farris said. “The pitching hasn’t been bad, it’s just a couple of big mistakes they’ve made that is more psychological than it is physical.”

Meanwhile, Ruiz is adjusting his lineup as he tries the find the right mix. It helps that he has freshman second baseman Derek Martinez returning after playing on a basketball team that reached the Class 3A semifinals. Martinez hit .450 after moving up to the varsity at midseason last year and solidifies the middle of the infield with sophomore shortstop Thomas Erickson.

The two underclassmen highlight the youth movement in the program, as only three seniors dot the roster and two are starters.

“These guys have a little bit more of a different mindset,” Ruiz said. “They are just competing and coming out working hard every day. They’re not buying into the program because a lot of them already have. They need to compete every day to keep their spot, and they understand that.”

Roseanne Noedel Softball Tournament: The softball portion of the St. Michael’s tournament doubleheader has a significant Northern flavor, with the host Lady Horsemen, Capital, Pojoaque Valley and Española Valley.

The Elkettes and St. Michael’s will face off in the opening round at 1:40 p.m., and will mark the home opener for first-year St. Michael’s head coach Joe Alvarez. Capital leads into that game with a matchup against West Las Vegas at 11:20 a.m., while the Lady Sundevils take on Albuquerque Academy in the 4 p.m. finale.

The opening game features Raton and defending champion Bernalillo in a rematch of last year’s tournament title game in a 9 a.m. start.

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