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Gateway Christian advances with victory over Cimarron

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Submitted Photo Gateway’s Jaydon Stephens throws out a pitch Wednesday against Cimarron in Rio Rancho.

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Jaydon Stephens struck out 17 and had a key hit early against the Cimarron Rams (11-5) Wednesday in Rio Rancho as the Gateway Christian Warriors (16-2) advanced to the semifinals of the A-2A baseball playoffs, 6-3.

Stephens’ grandfather, head coach Rick Rapp, praised the junior’s pitching performance.

“He did a great job,” Rapp said. “The first few innings he was overpowering and struck out quite a few players. We had a couple of errors behind him and they probably wouldn’t have scored any runs. Jaydon certainly did a good job for us.”

Along with Stephens’ pitching performance, Rapp was happy with the way he set the tone for the offense in the first inning.

“He leads off for us and he hit a shot pretty much to straight away center, to the fence for a triple,” Rapp said.

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Later, a hit batter made way for number 3 hitter Chase Winkler.

“Chase gets a base hit, so we’re up 2-0 right quick,” Rapp said. “It was a good way to start and we get another run in.”

The Warriors scored two more runs in the second. The Rams scored one run in the third and two in the sixth.

“Cimarron was a pretty good team,” Rapp said. “They’re a little scrappy. To be honest I think we kind of relaxed a little bit (toward the end).”

The Warriors picked up their final run in the fourth inning.

The number 4 Warriors face the number 1 Mesilla Valley Christian Son Blazers (14-3) from Las Cruces today at 10 a.m. at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho.

“Obviously they’re a good ball club,” Rapp said. “They only played five innings today (Wednesday) and 10-run ruled Floyd (15-5). They hit the ball well.”

Rapp has praise for Son Blazer junior Josh Castillo, who has committed to New Mexico State University. He is a double threat at the plate and on the pitching mound with a 2-0 record and a 1.65 ERA.

His batting average is .750 and he has 33 hits with three home runs and 31 RBIs.

“He’s the real deal,” Rapp said.

The Warriors and Son Blazers squared off last year in the semifinals. MVCS won 4-0 and made it to the title game, losing to Lordsburg 12-2.

Rapp said MVCS hasn’t changed in the last year.

“Jaydon pitched that game and they scored two runs off of him,” Rapp said. “We didn’t hit the ball. We’re gonna have to get the good pitching and also hit the ball more consistently throughout the game.”

The A-2A championship game is set for Friday at 9 a.m. at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque.

 

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