LA tops Fruita Monument in tourney

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By The Staff

The Los Alamos Hilltopper baseball team picked up yet another 1-run win over another solid team to open the Piedra Vista Invitational.
Jared Mang threw a complete game against a very good hitting team and the defense behind him was spotless Thursday as Los Alamos nipped Monument High School of Fruita, Colo., 3-2, to open the tournament.
Los Alamos will now advance to face the host Piedra Vista Panthers this afternoon. This will be the third meeting between the two teams this season.
The Hilltoppers pushed two runs across in the first inning, then answered two Monument runs in the second inning with a run in the third, which proved to be the game-winner.
As he did last week against Hope Christian, catcher Trevor Pacheco came through with a clutch base hit with two outs in the third to drive in a run which proved to be the game winner.
“The last three games, we haven’t got a lot of hits, but we’ve gotten a lot of nice, timely hits,” Los Alamos manager Mike Gill said. Los Alamos finished with four hits Thursday.
The Hilltoppers (6-4) have now won four straight contests, all by 1-run margins.
Mang stayed out of trouble in every inning but the second when he walked a Monument batter and hit another with a pitch.
But Gill said starting in the fourth inning, Mang was able to hit his spots, which allowed the defense behind him to set up to take away holes.
The defense came up big for the Hilltoppers, including right fielder Wes Moss, who made a clutch catch in the contest.
Mang’s runs were earned in the second inning. He allowed just six hits against a very good hitting team — Monument had a team batting average of .365 entering Thursday’s play — and struck out three batters.
In the top of the first, Jake Downs hit a 1-out single and Colin Kitts walked. After a passed ball but both runners into scoring position, Lane Saunders came through with a double to drive both runners in.
Los Alamos opened its season with a doubleheader in Farmington against Piedra Vista’s Panthers. While Los Alamos lost both ends there, it led in the second game going into the bottom of the seventh before the Panthers scratched together a run to force extra innings and eventually take a 7-6 game two win.
Connor Mang is scheduled to start today’s game on the hill for Los Alamos.
While the Hilltoppers have won four of their last five against solid competition, something Gill said he was pleased to see, winning ballgames, at least for the moment, isn’t the most important thing.
“The guys are doing a good job of not getting caught up with the results,” he said. “Right now, it’s just about trying to get better…We can’t control the other team, just ourselves, and we’re trying to get better every time.”