Tiger baseball wins two of first three

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The Tigers have seen the whole range of emotions for the start of the Los Lunas baseball season over the last week.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Avoiding the Mustangs’ Anthony Gonzales, Los Lunas shortstop Darron Gallegos whips the ball to first base to complete a double play in the Tigers’ season-opening 12-2 win over West Mesa on Tuesday. The Tigers split a doubleheader with Los Alamos on Thursday and will visit Bernalillo on Saturday.

Thursday, the Class 4A Tigers felt the frustration of dropping a close decision to 4A Los Alamos, 3-2, in front of the home crowd. They then followed that with the thrill of stealing a contest in the late innings, 4-0 in the nightcap of the doubleheader.

On Tuesday, the Tigers began their season with a 12-2 run-rule win over visiting 5A West Mesa.

Los Lunas takes its 2-1 record on the road with a visit Saturday to 4A Bernalillo and a Tuesday contest at 5A Cleveland.

Los Lunas 4, Los Alamos 0

It took the Tigers until the fifth inning to get on the board, but unlike the first game, Los Lunas got an outstanding pitching effort from Mesa, Ariz. transfer Jake Lawrence and solid defense form third baseman Isaac Parra.

The single run scored in the fifth and three runs tallied in the sixth were quite enough to post the second Los Lunas win of the young season.

Lawrence registered seven strike outs and Los Lunas retired the side in order in five of the seven innings. Lawrence only allowed three baserunners, with the Hilltoppers leaving two stranded and the third erased by a terrific double play started by Lawrence in the sixth inning.

Of Lawrence’s first game on the mound for Los Lunas, Coach Robert Riggins said, “Jake really threw an amazing game.”

Lawrence was humble after the win, saying that he is very happy to be playing for the Tigers.

“My job is just to get a win,” said Lawrence. “I needed to go out there and help my team win. That is it, really.”

It wasn’t the fastball that gave the Los Lunas senior success.

He said, “The change-up, I would say, and just throwing the first pitch strike. It is my first win for Los Lunas, so it feels great.”

Riggins noted that Parra’s glove was a big reason the Tigers were able to keep the Hilltoppers off the bases in the second game of the double-header. Parra had four assists on some hard hit balls to the hot corner.

Riggins said, “He really stepped it up big tonight. We were a little worried since he was in wrestling and has only been out about 10 days.”

Los Lunas scored its first run in the fifth when John Rivera scored from second on a Greg Wortman single.

The Tigers added three more runs in the sixth with the big blow coming off the bat of Tyler Mariano. Pinch-hitting for Lawrence, Mariano laced an RBI double to the right-center field gap, scoring Cody Reynolds. Rivera got an RBI single, bring home Mariano, and then scored on a wild pitch.

Los Lunas was able to retire the Hilltoppers in order in the seventh to secure the shutout.

Los Alamos 3, Los Lunas 2

Two costly errors put the Tigers behind the visiting Hilltoppers in the first game of the doubleheader, and Los Lunas was never able to recover, despite having runners in scoring position in every inning but the fifth.

Los Alamos took the lead in the third on Zeke Zumbro’s RBI single, scoring J.D. Weiss. The Hilltoppers added a run in the next inning when Kyle Parks scored on a fielding error that let Conner Mang reach first.

The Tigers had scoring opportunities go unrewarded in almost every inning. Isaac Parra was stranded at third base after a resounding one-out triple to center field in the second inning.

The Tigers loaded the bases in the fourth with no outs and could only score one run when Cruz hit into a double play that scored Parra.

Parra had a terrific game at the plate, hitting a single, double and triple. Darron Gallegos hit a triple and scored in the seventh inning to make the contest close at 3-2.

Ruger Rodriguez took the loss, pitching into the fifth inning. He left with one out and two runners on base. Parra came on in relief and got two strikeouts and three assists on balls hit back to the pitcher in just over two innings of work.

Los Lunas 12, West Mesa 2

The Tigers had no trouble getting the wood bats going early in the season-opening win over visiting West Mesa on Tuesday.

The Tigers got four runs in the first inning with the big hit being Reynolds’ two-run double with the bases loaded. Rivera and Gallegos both scored. Mario Legarda scored on a wild pitch, as did Reynolds, before the Hilltoppers could get out of the inning.

Los Lunas added a run in the second as Legarda sacrificed to score Cruz. The Tigers led 5-0 after two innings.

The Tigers scored two in the third with Cruz coming through with a two-RBI triple, scoring Parra and Greg Wortman.

The Tigers took a 10-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth, scoring three runs.

Schollander hit a bases-loaded double to score Gallegos and Legarda. Wortman came home on Parra’s single.

The Mustangs delayed the 10-run mercy rule an inning by scoring twice in the top of the fifth. Los Lunas put the game away in the bottom of the sixth as Parra’s double scored Wortman and Schollander.

Legarda got the win, five strike outs in five innings of work. Reynolds got three strikeouts in the sixth inning, facing just four batters, to finish the game for the Tigers.

“I knew that we would have a decent team this year,” said Riggins. “I just did not know how we would respond to the environment.”


-- Email the author at mstearns@news-bulletin.com.