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Baseball: Toppers open district at Bernalillo

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LA is defending 2-4A champ but lost to Spartans earlier this month

By The Staff

To say that the 2011 District 2AAAA baseball title race is up for grabs is something of an understatement.
That race officially got underway today with a pair of games. One of those games featured the Los Alamos Hilltoppers and the Bernalillo Spartans, who locked horns at Bernalillo.
Los Alamos will be looking to overcome a rough nondistrict schedule, in which it went 3-9. Despite its subpar won-loss record, however, Los Alamos has started to show signs of life, earning two wins in its last four outings and staying competitive with its last five opponents.
The Hilltoppers were nipped on the road at Moriarty Saturday, falling 4-3, five days after holding on to beat Santa Fe Indian School 12-8 in Santa Fe.
For Los Alamos, the big question will be if it can continue playing more consistent ball, which it struggled to do earlier this year.
The Hilltoppers won the 2010 district title, dropping just one district contest to top the Bernalillo Spartans by a full game in the district standings — the only games Los Alamos and Bernalillo lost during district play last year were to each other.
Bernalillo has been among the toughest teams in the district since joining it in 2006. Bernalillo won two consecutive 2AAAA titles in 2007 and 2008 before Los Alamos snapped its streak in 2009.
This season, none of the five 2AAAA teams have posted a particularly good record in nondistrict play. Of the 2AAAA teams, only the Spartans (5-7) are within four games of a .500 mark or have won more than three games, while the district squads have gone a combined 14-36 (.280 winning percentage) on the season.
The Spartans and the Hilltoppers met during the nondistrict season, ending up on the same side of the bracket at the St. Pius X Invitational earlier this month.
The Spartans posted a 14-6 victory in that contest, although because it was not a scheduled 2AAAA game, doesn’t count in the district standings.
The district picked up a newcomer this season, Santa Fe, which on paper looked like an instant competitor for a 2AAAA title.
While in Class 5A, about the only sport in which Santa Fe’s Demons were consistently competitive on a state level was baseball, but the Demons have so far struggled as a member of Class 4A.
The Demons (2-8) have allowed runs in spades, giving up 10 runs or more eight times this season. On the other side, their offense has been very much feast-or-famine, scoring 10 runs or more three times and being shut out three times.
Los Alamos also ran into Santa Fe in the St. Pius tournament. Los Alamos routed Santa Fe in that contest, 13-1.
The Hilltoppers and the Demons have a doubleheader scheduled for Saturday in Santa Fe.
Santa Fe opened up its district season today as well. It met up with Española Valley (3-7) in Española.
The Sundevils, much like the Demons, have been all over the board this season and have been involved in only four games that were decided by less than four runs.
Capital (1-5) has been largely a non-factor in the 2AAAA race in recent years. Little occurred in Capital’s nondistrict season that would lead its fans to believe the 2011 race is going to go much differently.
The winner of the 2AAAA championship will get an automatic bid into the 2011 state tournament.
Los Alamos, with a 1-6 record against Class 4A teams during the nondistrict season, will most likely have to defend its title to earn a nod into the state playoffs.