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Baseball: LA knocks off Pojoaque

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By Mike Cote

JACONA — Taking a quick, simple look at the Los Alamos Hilltopper baseball team so far this season, one thing immediately jumps out at the casual observer.When Los Alamos has had generous run support, it’s won. When the run support hasn’t been there, Los Alamos has lost.On Tuesday, the Hilltoppers did have that run support, grabbing an early 3-run lead and pushing 10 runs across in total to knock off the Pojoaque Elks.Jon Thoma, in his first start of the season, went five innings, pitching himself out of the only real jam he found himself in to earn a 10-4 victory at Jacona Field.Other than the third inning, when the Elk lineup touched him up for three runs, Thoma cruised.“Jon has good movement naturally with his fastball,” Los Alamos manager Mike Gill said. “I bet we didn’t throw 10 off-speed pitches (Tuesday). The pitchers did a good job of moving it around.”Scott Berkebile, whom Gill has spoken of highly throughout the early part of the season, mopped up the final two innings for the Hilltoppers, preserving the win.Thoma threw 74 pitches in his five innings, a fair portion of those coming in the third when Pojoaque got three of its first four batters of the inning aboard. The big blow in that inning was a 2-run triple from left fielder Josh Fresquez.But Thoma settled down quickly, fanning the next batter, Juan Trevizo. Later in the inning Thoma’s defense cut down Steven Maestas at the plate on a delayed steal attempt.Defensive support has been at a premium this season for Los Alamos, but Thoma said he was thankful for all the help he could get.“Getting the defense involved really pumps up our offense,” Thoma said. “That’s how it’s been for us all year.”Thoma got a good cushion to start with when designated hitter Alex Kirk hit an opposite field line drive over the wall in right center to drive in three runs. In the second inning, Ryan Schleft hit an opposite field gapper to knock in a run and bump the ’Topper edge up to 5-0.Tuesday’s win was the third of the season for the Hilltoppers, who have scored more than twice as many runs in those three victories (43) as they have in their eight losses (21).Los Alamos was hungry for a good showing Tuesday, trying to build some momentum going into the final part of its nondistrict season. Los Alamos opens District 2AAAA play in two weeks.The win snapped a two-game skid at the Aztec Invitational this weekend, where, after an opening round win against Gallup — Los Alamos scored 15 in that game — the ‘Toppers fell 19-5 to Piedra Vista and 10-4 to Bloomfield.“It’s good to start building confidence coming into district,” Thoma said. “We play like we did (Tuesday), we’ll be strong.”Los Alamos has just two more tune-ups prior to 2AAAA, both of those this week. It will face Albuquerque at home Friday, then return for a game against Santa Fe Saturday, also at home.The 2AAAA season starts with Taos April 9.“All wins are good wins, but Pojoaque played a solid ballgame,” Gill said. “Coming off four (losses) against Piedra Vista, we were a little shell-shocked. It’s nice to get a game closer to home and play some good baseball.”