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In Friday’s District 2-4A doubleheader, the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team was itching for a sweep.
But Emily Rodriguez and the Bernalillo Spartans had other plans.
Rodriguez, who survived a rocky start in game one of the doubleheader, pitched seven sparkling innings to give her team a 4-2 victory.
Los Alamos would bounce back in the nightcap of the doubleheader, winning that contest 6-1 and stay within striking distance of the district leader Santa Fe in the standings.
Bernalillo, which was stunned in both ends of a doubleheader last week by Santa Fe, needed at least a split at Los Alamos Friday to avoid falling into a deep hole in the 2-4A race.
The loss in game one was only a glancing blow for the Hilltoppers at this point, however. They can make up any lost ground from this weekend when they host Santa Fe’s Demons Wednesday – Santa Fe had a doubleheader with Española Valley Saturday, results from those games hadn’t been reported as of press time.
Los Alamos manager Roger Anaya said he doesn’t mind his team having to battle its way through district, something the team didn’t have to do in 2010 when it went a perfect 12-0 in 2-4A.
“This district is going to be tough,” Anaya said. “There’s three teams fighting for it. It’ll be interesting. It’ll be a lot of fun. We like close games. They get you better.”
Friday at Overlook Park, Hilltopper ace Monika Teter threw all 14 innings of the doubleheader, including engaging Rodriguez in a nail-biting duel. Both pitchers had to dodge several bullets throughout the game, but the game remained scorless until the top of the fourth.
Bernalillo finally broke the scoreless tie in the sixth, with Rodriguez doubling into left-center to drive home Dee Montaño from second. Rodriguez, who came up to bat twice earlier in the game with runners in scoring position and came up empty both times, got Bernalillo’s 4-run rally going.
Down to its last at-bat in the seventh, Los Alamos put its first three hitters on board, thanks in no small part to two Spartan errors in the inning.
Both Kristin Christensen and Dancie Smith scored on a throwing error by Bernalillo – which had played excellent defense up to that point – which sailed over the fence behind first base.
Los Alamos had three chances with the tying run at the plate, but came up empty.
Erin Kirk drove a line drive into left field for an apparent hit, but Bernalillo left fielder Ariel Archuleta threw a bullet to third base to retire a Los Alamos runner trying to advance from second.
Teter, who, despite going the full 14 innings Friday will probably get the starting nod Wednesday against the Demons, set down nine Bernalillo hitters in a row at one point in the first game. Rodriguez, for her part, retired 13 of 14 batters she faced during one stretch.
To open game two, Bernalillo went up 1-0 after half an inning, but Los Alamos countered in the home half. Los Alamos would score twice more in the third and three more times in the sixth to seal the victory.
“The girls were a little disappointed,” Anaya said of his team in between games. “But I told them if we can get a split, we’ll still be in third place and if we beat Santa Fe, we’ll get the lead. A split is great for us.”
Micaela Christensen, the Hilltoppers’ No. 3 batter, hit a triple in the sixth to drive in two runs. She would score one batter later on a passed ball.