Estevan Baca

Belen junior Estevan Baca eyes the ball before hitting his walk-off single to seal the victory for the Eagles on Friday.

Belen narrowly beat Valencia in a 10-9 comeback win on their home field.

“Our guys didn’t give in,” said Belen head coach Tom Wisneski. “We didn’t give up, being down to a really good Valencia team.”

The Eagles (10-12, 4-1) trailed for most of the game, not gaining a lead unil the bottom of the seventh inning as the Jaguars started the game strong.

The Jags (10-12, 0-6) scored four runs at the top of the first.

The Eagles scored three of their own in the same inning, but couldn’t get anything steady going until later in the matchup.

The Jags kept stretching the difference, at one point leading 9-3. Highlighted by senior Alex Romero’s home run, they were a force at the plate.

“We played well,” said Valencia head coach Carlos Carrasco. “We hit the ball very well.”

But the tide soon turned in favor of the Eagles.

Junior pitcher Luke Aragon was put on the mound in the fourth inning and the Eagles allowed only one run from that point forward.

At the bottom of the fifth, they put up three runs and cut the Jags’ lead to 9-7.

In the seventh inning, the Eagles and Jags were tied when junior Estevan Baca stepped up to the plate and hit a walkoff single to send junior Mathieu Chavez in for the winning run.

“Baca means a ton to our team with his stick,” said Wisneski. “And when we have to use Aragon at pitcher, he goes to shortstop.”

Baca finished going 3-for-5 at bat with one RBI.

Senior Jadrian Martinez batted 3-for-3 with two RBIs, and Aragon finished with five strikeouts in the final innings.

Though he was generally pleased with his team performance, Carrasco hopes the Jaguars can learn from the loss.

“We have to improve on finishing games,” said Carrasco.

Meanwhile, as Belen sits just behind St. Pius in District 5-4A standings, Wisneski is hoping for a strong finish.

“We are 10-12,” said Wisneski, “but we played a daunting schedule this year and are battle-tested to make a strong finish in district and possibly the state tournament.”

On Tuesday, Valencia hosted St. Pius. Though the Jaguars played a competitive game which went to eight innings, they ultimately fell to the Sartans 9-4.

The Jags will travel to Grants to take on the Pirates at 6 p.m., Friday.

Belen’s district rivalry game at Los Lunas was postponed until Wednesday and did not take place until after the News-Bulletin deadline.

The Eagles will host Hope Christian at 10 a.m., Saturday.

Los Lunas’ next game will be at St. Pius at 3 p.m., Friday.

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