Tiger baseball loses in eighth inning

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

One of the most intense games of the season for the Los Lunas High baseball team might be next, and the Tigers will have to regroup from a frustrating loss in the meantime.

Tuesday, the Tigers (13-6, overall, 3-1 in District 6-4A) piled on some late runs in a 14-2 win at Gallup, and falling 4-3 in eight innings against Miyamura in Gallup on Thursday.

Next up is the Tigers' biggest physical and emotional challenges of the year. They're set to play at 4 p.m., Wednesday, April 11, at Valencia High.

The Tigers beat the Jaguars, 10-3, at LLHS last season, but lost their regular-season finale at VHS, 4-3.

"They're the top dogs," said LLHS coach Robert Riggins. "So both teams will be ready to play. I don't think we've really done anything yet. It's a big game."

Miyamura 4,

Los Lunas 3 (8 inn.)

Thursday in Gallup, the host Patriots (11-3, 3-1) were playing in a close game for the second day in a row. That may have worked against the Tigers, who have been in several blowout games lately — but so did a pair of questionable calls in Thursday's game.

In the top of the eighth inning, the Tigers' Jake Lawrence put down a perfect suicide squeeze that scored Cody Reynolds for a 3-2 lead.

In the bottom of the inning, Tiger reliever Isaac Parra got the leadoff batter to ground out, but the next three Patriots reached base to push the tying run across. Parra struck out the next hitter for the second out.

Parra got an 0-2 count against the next batter, Riggins said, and the Patriot hitter appeared to foul-tip the next pitch.

However, the umpire never called a foul ball, and a Patriot baserunner raced home from third with the game-ending run.

"The pitch changed direction, and (catcher Greg Wortman) was standing up to grab it, and it went between his legs," said Riggins. "I went out there, but the umpire said, 'Coach, the catcher missed it.'"

Another controversial call involved a dropped ball in the game's early innings. Riggins said the Tiger fielder took two steps with the ball and went to throw it when the ball dropped out of his glove.

"It's frustrating, because it's nothing that we did that cost us the game," said Riggins.

Patriot starter Johnny Montaño threw well, Riggins said, but the Tigers hit several balls directly at a Patriot fielder.

"We had six or seven balls that we crushed to right field, and they have an extra 30 feet that our field doesn't have, and some balls got hung up in the wind."

Mario Legarda added two doubles for the Tigers. Reynolds pitched into the fifth before being relieved by Parra.

Los Lunas 14, Gallup 2

Tuesday at Gallup, the Tigers tacked six runs in the top of the seventh to aid pitcher Ruger Rodriguez, who went the distance.

The Tigers were the only Valencia County baseball or softball team able to play Tuesday, as the other five all had home games that were rained out. Riggins said there was some snow as far as Grants, but the rest of the trip to Gallup was under sunny skies.

The Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning in the game, played on a huge artificial-turf field. The Bengals (4-13, 1-2) scored one run off Rodriguez in the bottom of the first, but he would then shut them down for the next six innings.

Los Lunas added a run in the second, another in the fourth, two more in the sixth and six in the seventh. Gallup got one run in the bottom of the seventh.

John Rivera continued to show why he's the Tiger leadoff hitter. The junior had three hits and two stolen bases, reaching base and scoring in all five plate appearances.

Riggins said Rivera has an on-base percentage of about .500 this season.

Lawrence went 3-for-3 with a walk, and Wortman went 2-for-4 with three runs scored.


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