WEB EXCLUSIVE: Tigers, Eagles end up on wrong side of state baseball series’

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LOS LUNAS – Playing without two starting pitchers because of suspensions, the No. 8 seed Los Lunas came into their best 2-of-3 series against No. 9  Deming with a distinct disadvantage – a lack of experienced pitching.

That lack of pitching caused them problems from the get-go Friday and really hit home Saturday as the Tigers were swept by the Wildcats. Deming won 9-4 on Friday and 15-0 in five innings on Saturday to knock Los Lunas out of the Class 4A State Baseball Tournament.

“It was pretty tough,” said LLHS coach Pete Candelaria. “We made costly errors, fell behind and couldn’t catch up. We had to make adjustments, people were playing out of position. But I thought the kids did a great job.”

On Friday, Deming scored two runs in the top of the first inning to take an early 2-0 lead. But Los Lunas countered in the bottom of the inning, tying the game at 2-2 when senior Ricardo Soto doubled, bringing in junior Carl Lucero and Kenny Peña.

But Deming took advantage of a fielding error and a pair of walks in the fourth inning, scoring four runs and added a run in the fifth to take a 7-2 lead.
Los Lunas got one runs from Darron Gallegos and Tomas Romero, who scored when senior Justin Yalch hit a triple, to cut the lead to 7-4. But Deming got Los Lunas 3-up, 3-down in the final two innings to take the win.

On Saturday, the Wildcats again took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. The Tigers showed some life in the second, loading the bases with two outs. But Tyler Perez struck out to end the inning and the threat.

Deming then opened the flood gates in the third and fourth innings, scoring five runs in the third inning and nine runs in a fourth inning that saw the Wildcats send up 13 batters and chase starting pitcher Gallegos then rough up his replacement, Peña as well and take advantage of a pair of errors.

“We knew they were a solid club,” Candelaria said. “We prepared for them as best as we could. We just fell short.”

Yalch, one of five seniors on the post-season roster for Los Lunas, said the team “Played their hearts out” despite having to go without the four starters who were suspended at the beginning of the week.

“It was tough,” he said. “We’re used to having them out there on the field. It really hurt us. We were missing our two best pitches, a lot of sticks. But I love these guys.

“I hope next year’s class just continues to build,” he said.

St. Pius sweeps visiting Belen

On Friday, No. 3 St. Pius X (18-8) sent up its ace, senior pitcher Ray Reyes, who set the tone for the best 2-of-3 series by nearly throwing a no-hitter. Behind Reyes’ 1-hitter, the Sartans would win 13-0 in 5 innings over No. 14 Belen.

The Eagles  rebounded Saturday and nearly pushed the defending state champions to a deciding third game. Belen tied the game 3-3 and 4-4 late in the game but were unable to score in the top of the seventh.

The Sartans got the winning run in the bottom of the inning to end the game and the series.

Belen (14-12) came into district play with a solid 10-6 record, including a win over top-8 seed Albuquerque Academy, and at one point were riding a seven-game winning streak.

But the Eagles fell into inconsistency down the stretch, losing five of it’s last six after starting league play 3-1 to fall into fourth place after looking like they might challenge for the league lead.

Belen loses six seniors from this year’s squad to graduation, including ace pitcher Timmy Vialpando, third baseman Gabriel “Bubba” Lucero, center fielder Andrew Castillo and shortstop Austin Baca. But the Eagles do have a sizable junior class that should provide leadership as well as talent for the 2015 squad.

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