Kade Benavidez

Los Lunas avoided a shutout in the final innings, coming through with a 9-1 victory over the visiting Valencia High School.

The Tigers (12-4, 2-2) and the Jaguars (10-10, 0-4) battled early on.

For the first couple of innings, things were going the Jaguars’ way defensively. Junior pitcher Ryan Clark pitched nine strikeouts in the first five innings.

“(Clark) pitched great,” said Valencia head coach Carlos Carrasco. “It was lights out for the first five innings.”

In the second inning, Clark hit a single to send senior Isaiah Garcia in for the Jaguars, putting Valencia up 1-0.

Despite a 30-minute lightning delay in the third inning, Valencia held on to their lead until the fifth.

Unfortunately for the Jaguars, the fifth inning was when things began to fall apart.

“Like we’ve been preaching all year,” said Los Lunas head coach Shaun Reed, “we stay constant. We’re not trying to make them do anything else.”

After a series of four straight walks which culminated in Los Lunas’ first run of the game. Junior Joseph Klaus hit a single to send a Los Lunas runner home later in the inning, giving the Tigers’ their first lead of the night.

The Jaguars couldn’t get on the board in the sixth inning, setting the Tigers up for a strong finish.

Though they made a pitching adjustment, Valencia allowed seven runs at the bottom of the sixth.

After senior Lyvan Medrano hit a 3-run triple and junior Lance Lueras knocked in a 2-run single, the game was out of reach for the visiting Jags.

Los Lunas junior Kade Benavidez finished the game with nine strikeouts. Despite the strong pitching and holding the Jaguars to only one run, Reed still saw room for improvement defensively for the Tigers.

“We need to get better at not leaving (our opponents) lead guy on,” said Reed.

Carrasco wants to see his squad move on from the loss and focus on finishing the season strong as they make a push for the state tournament.

“We have to go back to work and have a short memory,” said Carrasco. “It’s not how we start. It’s how we finish.”

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