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BERNALILLO — The District 2-4A season could’ve scarcely started better for the Los Alamos Hilltopper baseball team.
The Hilltoppers, playing on the road, took a tight 5-3 ballgame in the opener of their district twinbill with the Bernalillo Spartans, then exploded for 12 runs in the final three innings to pick up a victory in the nightcap, 14-1.
Los Alamos and Bernalillo have slugged it out for several seasons for control of 2-4A. In 2012, the early advantage goes to the Hilltoppers.
“It was big,” said Los Alamos pitcher Steven Williams, who threw a gem in game two. “We really wanted to show them what we were made of. We have never played them too good, but we made sure we gave them a game this time.”
Williams and JD Weiss both tossed complete games Saturday at Dave Rostro Field. Weiss got nicked for two runs in the first two innings but settled down to retire the final eight batters he faced. Williams, meanwhile, faced the minimum number of Spartan hitters through four innings and didn’t give up a hit until the fifth to earn a win in game two.
Williams was able to work in some well-placed breaking balls that stymied Bernalillo’s offense throughout. Bernalillo’s only run came in the fifth when Izzy Chavarria lined a 1-out single into right field to score Forrest McCook.
Chavarria was the only Spartan who hit the ball hard through the first five innings of the contest — he also had a hard liner to left field which Kyle Parks made a leaping grab of to end the second inning.
But with game two’s outcome still very much in doubt, Los Alamos was able to come up with four runs in the top of the sixth, taking advantage of an error in the outfield which allowed Jake Downs to get to third on a single to right field.
With two runs in and two runners on, the Hilltopper executed a textbook hit-and-run. Thomas Russell bounced a single in between shortstop and third to score Zeke Zumbro and move ahead 7-1.
In game two, shortstop Jared Mang went 3-for-4 with three RBI.
He drove in Zumbro in the first inning, tripled in Austin Aslin in the fifth and hit a sacrifice fly to score Connor Mang in the sixth.
“I was trying to be aggressive early in the count,” said Mang, who went 2-for-4 with a RBI in game one. “I got behind, but I just battled back.”
Mang’s game one RBI came as part of a three-run fourth inning with Zumbro also driving in a run with a big base hit off McCook, the game one pitcher.
Weiss won the pitching battle in the first game, striking out seven and walking just two.
Williams, meanwhile, finished game two allowing just two hits and striking out seven batters.
Zumbro scored five runs for the Hilltoppers in the two games and drove in three more from the lead-off spot, while Russell went 4-for-8 and drove in four runs in the doubleheader.
The two wins gives Los Alamos (10-5 overall, 2-0 in 2-4A) the early inside track in the district season as it looks to claim its fourth consecutive district title.
“We’ve just got to keep executing our small-ball and not trying to do too much,” Mang said. “We don’t have a whole lot to change at this point, just throw strikes and play good defense.”