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BELEN — Little more could be asked from Zak Walterscheid.
In the opening game of a three-game set to determine which team would advance to this week’s Class AAAA quarterfinals, Walterscheid threw a gem. He allowed just seven hits and one earned run through 6-plus innings of work.
But that one earned run was all the Belen Eagles would need against the Los Alamos Hilltopper baseball team. Another pair of unearned runs would just be gravy as the Eagles took game one of the three-game set 3-0.
In Saturday’s doubleheader, the Eagles’ bats awoke, but the Hilltoppers’ didn’t. The Eagles picked up a 10-0 victory in Belen to knock Los Alamos out of contention.
Walterscheid’s game one effort, combined with the goose egg on the board left Los Alamos manager Mike Gill shaking his head.
“I feel really bad for Zak,” Gill said following Friday’s loss. “His last four games he’s been outstanding and he’s gotten no run support...He’s placing some good fastballs, he’s getting his off-speed pitches in for strikes.”
Belen advanced to play Piedra Vista Wednesday.
Los Alamos, the 2AAAA runner-up this season, ends the 2008 campaign with a mark of 11-16.
As good as Walterscheid was Friday, Belen pitcher Johnny Garcia was even better.
Garcia gave up just four hits in the opener and allowed just one Hilltopper runner past second base all evening.
Garcia, with his team clinging to a 2-0 lead most of the night, set down the Hilltoppers in order in the fourth and fifth innings.
Only left fielder Eli Pulliam got more than one hit off Garcia the entire night.
“He kept us off balance,” Gill said of Garcia. “We never got in a rhythm against him.”
Los Alamos’ best chance to score in the game came in the second inning, when Walterscheid drew a one-out walk, which was followed up by a Ryan Schleft infield hit two batters later.
The next batter, Pat Berkebile, was nicked by a Garcia breaking ball to load the bases, but Garcia escaped the inning unscathed by getting the next batter, Jack Russell to ground into a force out.
Belen’s defense was stellar throughout Friday’s game. The play of the night might have been the first out of the final inning, when Belen first baseman Jared Barkemeyer gloved a hot ground ball heading down the baseline, likely taking extra bases away from Adam Eberhart.