Baseball: LA, Artesia meet Thursday

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By The Staff

The Los Alamos Hilltopper baseball team is heading into new territory Thursday.

None of the Hilltoppers on the 2009 roster have ever been past the first round of the state Class AAAA tournament until this season.

But with its victory in the best-of-three series this weekend at Bomber Field, the Hilltoppers advanced to the AAAA quarterfinal round of the playoffs, which starts Thursday.

Los Alamos, the No. 9 seed in the tournament, knocked off the Moriarty Pintos, coming back from a 1-run deficit in the bottom of the eighth in the decisive third game Saturday to take the three-game set.

The order gets quite a bit taller Thursday, however, as the Hilltoppers will take on the state’s top-ranked AAAA team, the Artesia Bulldogs.

Thursday’s quarterfinal will be played at Eldorado High School in Albuquerque.

First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.

Artesia swept Aztec in their best-of-three series last weekend to advance to face Los Alamos.

Artesia finished the 2009 regular season with a record of 22-4, the best mark in AAAA. It finished the regular season winning eight of its last nine games.

Hilltopper manager Mike Gill said the Bulldogs are a formidable squad from top-to-bottom offensively and defensively.

The winner of Thursday’s contest will take on the winner between fifth-ranked Belen and fourth-ranked Piedra Vista. That semifinal game will take place Friday at Lobo Field.

On the other side of the AAAA bracket Thursday, Farmington meets St. Pius X and Deming, which pulled off a minor upset in the first round against Goddard, will play Albuquerque Academy.