Hilltoppers’ win streak snapped

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By Mike Cote

Friday’s baseball game between Los Alamos and Albuquerque Academy didn’t want for big innings.

An 8-run fifth inning posted by the Los Alamos Hilltopper baseball team was countered by a 10-run sixth inning from the Academy Chargers.

The two teams combined for 35 runs Friday, but the Hilltoppers came up on the short end of an 18-17 extra-inning decision played at Bomber Field.

Los Alamos’ ace Zakk Walterscheid couldn’t stop the bleeding in the top of the sixth Friday.  Academy’s Kevin Harrison opened the frame with a solo home run, the first of eight hits Academy collected.

The big rally turned a 9-2 Hilltopper lead into a 12-9 Hilltopper deficit.

Just half an inning earlier, Los Alamos sent 14 batters to the plate. Center fielder Zach Mang’s two-run shot early in the inning was Los Alamos’ second home run of the day and sparked the burst.

Los Alamos’ first five batters of the inning reached base and all of them came around. Meanwhile, second baseman Adam Eberhart, who reached on a walk in his first plate appearance of the fifth, singled in a pair of runners in his second appearance.

But Los Alamos’ big lead wouldn’t even last until the bottom of the sixth. Academy strung together six singles and Harrison’s home run to reclaim the lead.

The Hilltoppers rallied for four runs in their final at-bat of regulation to force an extra inning.

Ryan Schleft and Scott Berkebile came through with base hits at the bottom of the order to extend the inning.

But another rally in the top of the eighth by Academy would eventually prove to be the game-winner, although Los Alamos would make things interesting in the bottom of the eighth.

Three straight hits to start the eighth inning combined with a Hilltopper error helped give the Chargers an 18-13 lead. The Hilltoppers pushed four runs across with four straight hits of their own to open their final chance but couldn’t get the tying run across.

Mang scored three times in the contest for Los Alamos (4-9) to go along with his homer, while Michael Helland hit a solo shot to lead off the second inning. Helland and Eli Pulliam also scored three runs Friday.

Friday’s loss snapped a two-game win streak for the Hilltoppers, who have scored 49 runs in their last three games but have surrendered 29.

For Academy (9-3), Friday’s win was its first outside of the greater Albuquerque area.