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A three-run fifth inning and a big relief pitching effort in the sixth keyed the Los Alamos Hilltopper baseball team to a win in its home opener.
Zeke Zumbro’s two-run triple was the big blow of a nip-and-tuck ballgame Saturday at Bomber Field, going with a curveball to right field that scored teammates JD Weiss and Danny Finn as the Hilltoppers dropped the Moriarty Pintos 5-4.
Zumbro had a huge game behind the plate as well as coming through with the key hit of the contest, throwing out a pair of runners in the second inning to limit the damage after the Pintos threatened to blow the contest open early.
Los Alamos’ rally in the fifth gave it the win in its first home game of the contest against a tough but inconsistent Pintos’ squad.
Moriarty took a 3-0 lead after 1-1/2 innings against Hilltopper starting pitcher Jake Downs. Downs bent but didn’t break, however, through his four innings on the mound.
Moriarty did its part to kill a couple of its own chances, too, running itself out of three innings.
Zumbro, a senior, said the team needed something to get it going early in the ballgame.
“In the beginning, we were really slow,” he said. “We needed some sort of spark. Me throwing those two guys out I think gave us a spark. We built off that.”
Los Alamos scored twice in the bottom of the second to get back into the ballgame.
The Hilltoppers, coming into the season with a young pitching staff, have had some good performances early in the season. Downs, a sophomore, was solid after settling down from the rough start, then freshman pitcher Danny Finn came on in relief of eighth grader Connor Mang with the bases loaded and no one out in the top of the sixth to hold the Pintos to one run.
Finn, who retired five of the six batters he faced – the game ended on a double play by Los Alamos – had some work done on his delivery in practice this week. Los Alamos manager Mike Gill said the coaching staff wanted to keep Finn tall and simplify his delivery to help him get the ball over the plate.
In the bottom of the second, the Hilltoppers (2-4) took advantage of an infield hit, an error and Mang beating out a throw to the plate to score two runs. In the fifth, Zumbro sent a flare down toward the right field line which just got under the diving attempt by Justin Batts, which brought in the two runs.