Tiger baseball players garner postseason awards


Despite having a lot of hurdles to overcome, the Los Lunas baseball team had plenty of achievements in the 2012 season, including taking one of the stronger teams in Class 4A to the brink of elimination in the first round of the state playoffs.

Albuquerque Academy came within one out of being eliminated at home by the Tigers, and Academy then went on to narrowly lose to Piedra Vista in the semifinals, 3-2.

News-Bulletin file photo: Los Lunas senior Mario Legarda makes contact at the plate during a 2012 game. Legarda led the Tigers in RBI and doubles and was selected to the first-team for District 6-4A. He was also an alternate selection for the north-south all-star game set for June 8 and 9 at Apodoca Park in Las Cruces.

“It is something to give our boys motivation going into next year,” said interim coach Daniel Harmon. “(Academy) went deep in the playoffs and gave Piedra Vista one heck of a game. We were just one run away, or one swing of the bat away, from being in their shoes.”

Los Lunas, which went 18-11, placed seven players in 11 positions on the 6-4A all-district list, including three on the first team. Seniors Mario Legarda and Cody Reynolds and junior Isaac Parra all received first-team district honors.

The Tigers excelled in spite of losing head coach Robert Riggins halfway through the district campaign, going through a two-game stint with Pete Candelaria as the coach, before finally settling in with multi-year assistant coach Harmon named as the coach for the remainder of the season.

“I was very excited,” said Harmon of the awards his team received. “The kids worked very hard this year, and they deserve all of the awards that they got, especially after having to go through the kind of year they went through, and all of the perseverance that they showed.”

Parra led the team or was second in most offensive categories. He scored 33 runs, hit five home runs, five triples and posted a slugging percentage of .730 — all team highs. He was second in RBI with 31, second in stolen bases with five, second in hits with 39, and third in batting average among the staters with a .420 mark. He was named to the first-team all-district as a pitcher and second-team at third base.

“Isaac had a really big year and he stood out at the plate and on the mound,” said Harmon. “He really improved and we look forward to him growing, especially next year when he will be a senior. We expect awesome things out of him next year.”

News-Bulletin file photo: Los Lunas senior Cody Reynolds awaits a throw at first base on a pickoff attempt on a Gallup baserunner. Reynolds led the Tigers in batting average and posted a 5-1 pitching record. He was selected to the first-team for District 6-4A at both first base and as a pitcher. Reynolds was also selected as a pitcher for the North-South all-star series, set for June 8 and 9 at Apodoca Park in Las Cruces.

Parra’s 4-5 record on the mound was deceiving, since he normally faced the opponents’ best pitcher. Parra lost to Miyamura’s Johnny Montaño twice and Valencia’s Jorge Venegas once. He was the only Tiger to record a state playoff win — the Tigers’ 5-3 win in the Academy series.

Parra led the team in strike outs with 57, while only walking 16.

Legarda, a first-team 6-4A selection as a utility player, led the team with 41 RBI and eight doubles, and posted a .430 batting average, second-best on the team. He also scored 10 runs and posted the second-best slugging percentage at .530, and went 2-1 on the mound, pitching sparingly due to an injury. He did get an honorable mention as an all-district pitcher.

Reynolds was the hottest Tiger hurler, posting a record of 5-1. He got the win when Los Lunas upset Valencia 2-1 in the final game of the regular season.

At the plate, Reynolds hit a team-high .440, drove in 23 runs, scored 26 times himself and hit one home run. His performance earned him 6-4A first-team honors as both a pitcher and a first baseman.

Reynolds was also named to the Class 4A/5A South all-star team, with Legarda as an alternate.

“To match that production is going to be really hard to do,” Harmon said of his seniors. “Both of those guys did an outstanding job.”

Harmon noted that the two seniors, Reynolds and Legarda, made contributions that will be hard to duplicate by others next season.

“Cody and Mario were both the backbone of this team. Anytime anything happened, they were right there to pick guys up. They were great leaders,” said Harmon.

The three 6-4A first-teamers could get votes for the Class 4A all-state team, which is expected to be released soon.

Ruger Rodriguez (.250 average, eight runs, 18 RBI) made the second team all-district. Rodriguez was named as both a pitcher and outfielder.

John Rivera (.350, 29 runs, 10 RBI), who led the team with 11 steals; Greg Wortman (.260, 21 runs, 13 RBI) and Darron Gallegos (.250, 11 runs, five RBI) were named as honorable mentions to the all-district team.

The Tigers placed several players on the State Farm All-Metro Class 2A/3A/4A team. Parra was named to the first team at third base, with Legarda making the first team in the utility spot.

Reynolds was named to the second team All-Metro as a pitcher, and he made honorable mention at first base, while Rodriguez was named honorable mention as a pitcher.

Senior Jake Lawrence (.320, four runs, five RBI) was the All-Metro Outstanding Senior Student Athlete for Los Lunas. He also posted a 3-1 record on the mound for the Tigers.

Harmon noted that the team improved from last year.

“Our goal for this year is that we wanted to move forward,” said Harmon. “Last year we won 13 games. We won 18 this year. That was a big step forward.”

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