Saunders, 'Toppers nip Tigers

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By The Staff

The Los Alamos Hilltopper baseball team picked up its second big win in a row, and again did so by the slimmest of margins.
The Hilltoppers nipped the Los Lunas Tigers on the road Tuesday afternoon. Lane Saunders pitched a gem for five innings, keeping a solid Tiger offense at bay as the Hilltoppers earned a 2-1 victory in Los Lunas.
Saunders allowed just two hits in his five innings of work. Connor Mang threw the sixth and the seventh to earn the save.
To get through his five innings, the left-handed Saunders needed a total of just 58 pitches. He was aided in his quest by the Los Alamos defense, which was shaky last week in a game against Albuquerque Academy but rock solid Tuesday, turning a pair of double plays behind him.
“It was just good pitching and great defense,” Los Alamos manager Mike Gill said after the game. “The defense was spot-on today. (Saunders) had pretty good control of his fastball today. They’re an aggressive swinging team but we got a lot of ground balls and a lot of fly balls.”
The Tigers (7-5) and Hilltoppers met twice last season and the Hilltoppers took it on the chin in both those contests, dropping them by identical scores of 15-2.
Offensively for Los Alamos Tuesday, Jake Downs scored in the third inning for Los Alamos (5-4) and Trevor Pacheco scored the game-winner in the fifth. Pacheco got on board early in the fifth then was moved into scoring position on a hit-and-run executed by Saunders.
Los Alamos juggled its lineup around last week to start a game with Hope Christian. While Los Alamos won that game 4-3, it’s still looking for that extra offensive punch that it was hoping to see from its lineup.
Gill said the Nos. 1-5 batters are swinging well right now, but the Hilltoppers will need better production from the bottom half. Los Alamos managed just one run against Atrisco Heritage and three runs in the loss to Academy.
Nevertheless, Los Alamos has now won three of its last four contests against tough opponents, and just missed out on an upset win over St. Pius X two weeks ago.
“It feels good,” Gill said. “Los Lunas took it to us last year. The difference between those games and this game is we had a better start. I remember us booting the ball around quite a bit in those games.”