Jaguars claim district baseball title with no hitter
With the District 6-4A championship on the line Tuesday night, the No. 4 Valencia baseball team needed a command performance — and that’s just what they got from senior pitcher Josh Baca.
The lanky right-hander hurled 10 strikeouts on his way to a no-hitter against host No. 8 Los Lunas, helping the Jaguars secure their second district title in three years with a 4-0 win over the Tigers.
“A no-hitter,” said VHS coach Carlos Carrasco excitedly after the game. “Josh definitely clutched up and brought his game. He dominated a great hitting line-up. That was just a straight up dominant performance.”
Baca, who finished up the night with a cool down run and workout while his teammates celebrated, was complementary of his team and soft-spoken about his accomplishment.
“It means a lot,” Baca said of posting his no-hitter to help the Jags win the title. “But I’ve got a good team to help me out. They played some great defense behind me. It was just a great game.”
Baca issued three walks but only one Los Lunas runner made it into scoring position, in the first inning. Baca himself shut down that threat with his first two strikeouts of the game. The other base runners in the game never made it past second base due to a stern defensive performance.
Valencia (18-5, 8-1) posted eight hits on the day, getting on the board in the second inning by loading the bases with two outs. Junior Jose Galaviz then singled to bring in a pair of runs. VHS then added single runs in the third and sixth inning to push their advantage to 4-0, a lead that could have been expanded even more had it not been for Tiger shortstop Nate Abeita, who snagged a line drive up the middle and triggered a double-play that got Los Lunas out of a bases-loaded jam.
“It’s hard for the guys to keep their heads up but I told them these are the kinds of game we want to play,” said LLHS coach Pete Candelaria. “You play good teams and it carries on.
“I thought we played well, (but) their pitcher threw a great game. You can’t win if you can’t hit. But other than that I was happy with how we played.”
With the win Valencia clinched the district title and made a case for a top-four seed in the upcoming Class 4A State Baseball Tournament. The Jaguars can add to their resume Thursday when they host No. 2 Roswell Goddard at Jaguar Field in Tomé before playing their final league game against Grants Saturday, also at Valencia High School.
Carrasco said the game is a terrific chance to prove themselves to the NMAA tournament selection committee.
“It’s a pair of game where two top teams are lobbying maybe for a number one seed,” Carrasco said. “We have a chance to prove it. Both teams have something to prove come Thursday.”
As to where the Jaguars should be when the state tournament seedings are announced on Sunday, Carrasco was succinct.
“I think as a district champ we’re a top-four seed,” he said. “I don’t know what the rest of the state might think. But we’ll see.”
Los Lunas (15-9, 7-2) closes the season at home against No. 2 Belen Friday night. The Eagles are fighting for a state tournament berth after falling into a three-game swoon late in the season.
“We’d like to stay within the eight seed,” Candelaria said. “We’re hoping we can do well in the state tournament.”
The Tigers set up Tuesday’s title tilt with a dramatic 5-4 win over Miyamura on Saturday.