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Baseball gets back on track with a pair of big wins

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By Phil Scherer

With a doubleheader sweep of Española Valley High School Saturday afternoon, the Los Alamos High School baseball team kept pace in District 2-5A, which looks as if it will be highly competitive until the end of the season. 

The Hilltoppers could not have asked for much more success Saturday afternoon, defeating the Sundevils 9-2 in the first game, and following it up with a 17-0 win in game two, showing that LAHS remains a force to be reckoned with in the playoff conversation. 

Jacob Rutten started the first game on the mound for the Hilltoppers, and displayed the dominant pitching that has carried his team at times this season. He struck out two batters in the first inning to work around a leadoff single, and followed that up in the second inning by striking out two more batters to escape a jam caused by a pair of walks. 

On offense, the Hilltoppers clicked right away, scoring 3 runs in the first inning thanks to a leadoff walk and an error by the Sundevil centerfielder. Singles by Antonio Gonzales, Rutten and Sam Fisher followed, and LAHS took a 3-0 lead. 

The Hilltoppers struck for another 3 runs in the second inning, as Tyler Neal, Hunter Swavely and Vincent Marciano came around to score after reaching base. The big hit of the inning came from Gonzales, who cleared the bases with a double. 

After allowing an unearned run to score because of an error in the third inning, Rutten continued his strong performance on the mound, striking out one batter in the third inning, and two more in the fourth inning before being relieved for the fifth inning by Walker Eaton. 

LAHS put the game away in the fourth inning, adding three more runs, scored by Swavely, Marciano and Gonzales. For Marciano, it was his third run scored in the game. Gonzales also added his second double of the game in the inning. 

After being staked to the big lead, Eaton kept Española Valley at bay the rest of the game, allowing just 1 run in three innings of relief. He also added four strikeouts, giving LAHS pitchers 11 in the game as the Hilltoppers cruised to a 9-2 victory. 

Following a short break, the teams returned to the field for the second game of the day, where the strong pitching and great hitting continued for the Hilltoppers. 

After being held scoreless over the first two innings, LAHS exploded for 15 runs in the bottom of the third inning. The team sent 20 batters to the plate in the inning, and forced Española Valley to make two pitching changes as the Hilltoppers took a 15-0 lead. 

LAHS added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 17-0 lead and ended the game via the mercy rule in the top of the fifth inning. 

With the two wins, the Hilltoppers improve to 9-9 overall, and 3-2 in District 2-5A play. Currently, LAHS sits in third place in the district, behind Albuquerque Academy, which is 5-1 in district play, and Del Norte, which is 3-1. 

LAHS will get back to action this afternoon on the road in Santa Fe, taking on Capital High School at 4 p.m. Capital is 3-16 this season, and 1-4 in district play.