Santa Teresa edges Los Lunas in state quarters
In the movies, warriors trap a tiger in a pit, then go in for the kill — which is pretty much what fourth-seeded Santa Teresa did to beat Los Lunas 5-4 in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A State Baseball Tournament last Thursday.
The Desert Warriors got the fifth-seeded Tigers in a hole, scoring five runs in the first inning to take what would turn out to be an insurmountable lead.
Los Lunas committed two errors and issued a pair of walks in the critical first inning. Although the Tigers fought to get back in the game, those mistakes turned out to be the key.
"It's baseball, errors are going to happen — it was only the first inning.," Tigers starting pitcher Isaac Parra said. "We tried to make a run for it, but that one inning just killed us.
Santa Teresa starter Carlos Ortiz kept LLHS hitters off balance until the bottom of the fourth inning, when the Tigers managed three hits and Chris Padilla and Ruger Rodriguez each scored to cut the deficit to 5-2.
One inning later Los Lunas managed to load the bases with no outs and score two more with Justin Yalch scoring on a passed ball and Darron Gallegos scoring, tagging up on a fly out to left field.
Parra settled down after the first inning and kept the Desert Warriors' bats quiet the rest of the game, posting seven strikeouts and allowing four hits the rest of the way.
"Isaac, he always gets better and better as the game progresses," said LLHS head coach Pete Candelaria. "The first inning bugged him but he came out and just dominated from the second inning to the seventh (inning)."
Despite getting a runner into scoring position in the sixth inning, the Tigers could not get the tying run across the plate in the final two innings.
"We needed a few more clutch hits and we didn't execute," Candelaria said afterward. "We put our runners in position to tie the game but it's baseball, sometimes you hit and sometimes you don't."
Los Lunas High loses six seniors from this year's squad — Parra, Rodriguez, Donald Cruz, Tyler Mariano, John Rivera, Preston Schollander. The six will be difficult to replace, but Candelaria said the team' returning juniors and sophomores coming up from junior varsity should help keep the Tigers competitive.
Parra agreed, expressing confidence in next year's seniors.
" I have no doubt in my mind that they'll come out harder next year," he said. "They'll be a really great program next year."
Junior Charles "Chuck" Holt said effort in the offseason is going to be the key for the Tigers.
"We just have to work harder over the summer," Holt said. "The guys coming back — we stroke the ball, we have a great defense and pitching. We just have to be set to come to this tournament and go all the way."