‘Topper baseball set for season opener at Sandia Prep

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By Jose Corral

The Los Alamos baseball team begins its 2017 campaign with a tough doubleheader.
The Hilltoppers will visit Sandia Prep Saturday and will play the Sundevils at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in Albuquerque.
The defending Class 4A state champion Sundevils are coming off a 27-4 season, where they won their second consecutive state title. However, Sandia Prep started the 2017 season with a 12-3 loss against St. Pius Tuesday.  
Los Alamos lost a lot of talent from its 2016 squad but does have a young rotation of players, combined with eight returners from last year. The Hilltoppers are coming off a 20-9 season and a state quarterfinals appearance.
James Neal is expected to fill a void in the infield, while Travis Gonzales and Jake Rutton will look to replace last year’s electric starting pitching duo of Connor Mang and Lane Saunders.
Los Alamos’ top returners will look to guide the team through a challenging schedule that includes participating in two tough regular season tournaments.
After the season-opening doubleheader, the Hilltoppers will open the St. Pius tournament  March 2 with a matchup against Class 6A contender Las Cruces High. Los Alamos will also play in the tournament the following two days.
After taking on Hope Christian, Los Lunas and Santa Fe High, the Hilltoppers will begin the Artesia tournament against Santa Teresa March 16.  
A doubleheader against Bloomfield and a road test at Belen will lead up to District 2-5A play, which begins with Los Alamos taking on Del Norte March 29.
The Hilltoppers look to continue their District 2-5A success and win their ninth consecutive district title.