Tigers get easy 7-2 win over Grants to start District 6-4A play


The baseball team with the most wins in Class 4A added another one to open District 6-4A play at home on Tuesday night.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Belen’s Garrett O’Conner avoids a tag on his way to scoring a run in the sixth inning against Gallup in Tuesday’s District 6-4A opener at Trini Montiel Field. The run fell short as Belen lost to Gallup, 6-5.

Los Lunas got a great performance on the mound from Chuck Holt and capitalized on some Pirate mistakes to outlast Grants, 7-2.

The Tigers are 13-4 and 1-0 in district after the win. They are scheduled to visit Gallup on Saturday and expect a much tougher contest than what they got at home on Tuesday night.

Gallup got a road win over Belen, 6-5, on Tuesday, and Miyamura won a close contest over Valencia, 2-1, on the Patriots home field.

At Belen, the Eagles rally fell just short when Bengal pitcher Nick Romero retired the side in order in the home half of the seventh inning. The tough loss for the Eagles came on the heels of a loss at Class 5A Atrisco Heritage on Saturday, 4-3.

Valencia fell at Miyamura after sweeping a double-header at home against Pojoaque on Saturday. Josh Baca got a mercy-rule 10-0 win over the Elks in the second game, striking out eight to get the win.

The Jags scored four first-inning runs in the opener to give Garrett Garcia all the run support he would need. The sophomore struck out 13 Elks through seven innings to get the win.

Los Lunas used three runs in the bottom of the fourth to break open a close game. Chris Padilla’s two-run double was the key hit that gave the Tigers a 5-1 lead.

After Grants scored in the fifth, Los Lunas got a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth before Holt closed the door on a Pirate rally in the top of the seventh.

Although pleased with the district win, coach Pete Candelaria had hoped for a little more energy coming off a big 10-inning win at Valley on Saturday.

When asked if he was happy with the win, Candelaria hedged a bit.

“Kind of, in a way,” Candelaria said. “Coming off a big win with an Albuquerque 5A school, I thought they would come out with a lot more aggression and passion for the game. I thought we played a little flat.”

Holt struck out seven Pirate batters in seven innings of work.

“The pitching has been part of our strength,” said Candelaria. “Chuck did a good job and we didn’t hold up our end. Some errors and things made Chuck have to work through some extra outs that he didn’t need to go through.”

Candelaria softened his approach a bit.

“It was all good though and these kids never quit, I will tell you that,” said Candelaria.

He was hoping for a little more offense against what he termed as some soft pitching.

“Our hitters are better than that,” he said turning his attention to the clutch hits from Chris Padilla.

“He gets a big hit to score two runs and then gets another big hit,” said Candelaria. “He has been a spark plug for us all year long. The kid has been a motivator and I have to commend him for his effort.”

Candelaria noted that it was Padilla’s homer that got the Tigers going in the 7-6 win at Valley.

“Chris hits a grand slam that really sparked the team up again,” said Candelaria. “Isaac (Parra) just got better and better. He pitched the whole 10 innings. That was a gutsy performance on the mound.”

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