Baseball: LA grabs 2 wins at Taos, moves to 7-0

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By The Staff

The Los Alamos Hilltopper baseball team apparently doesn’t like to have fans leaving halfway through a doubleheader.

The previous weekend, Los Alamos just got by Española Valley in game one only to slam the door early in game two to earn a big District 2AAAA sweep.

Saturday, the Hilltoppers needed extra innings in game one against the Taos Tigers, then put up an eight-run second inning to help secure another sweep.

Los Alamos traveled to Taos for the 2AAAA twinbill, grabbing 8-2 and 17-1 victories. The two wins now put the Hilltoppers within sight of a District 2AAAA championship.

However, Hilltopper manager Mike Gill isn’t quite ready to celebrate just yet.

“You know, 7-0 is a good start, and that’s it,” Gill said, alluding to the team’s spotless district record to date. “Right now, 7-0 doesn’t get you anything.”

The Hilltoppers (8-10 overall) have just five games remaining in their 2AAAA season, including a pair of big district tilts against Bernalillo on the road Saturday.

The score at the end of seven innings in game one was knotted a 1 each, but Los Alamos rallied for seven runs in the top of the eighth. Los Alamos took advantage of Taos error early in the inning, then put together five straight hits, the big blows being a RBI double from Billy Cooper and a 2-run home run by James Larkin to cap the rally.

Meanwhile, Los Alamos ace pitcher Lukas Coker tossed 120 pitches on his way to the victory. Coker, who won both ends of the doubleheader a week earlier against Española Valley, went 7-2/3 innings in the first game and gave up just five hits and two earned runs.

Cooper, who has swung a hot bat for Los Alamos of late, finished the game 2-for-3.

Thomas Russell was 3-for-4 with a run scored and Mike Young had a double and scored a pair of runs.

In the nightcap, Ryan Schleft threw five innings of hitless ball to earn the victory.

Schleft surrendered just one unearned run and struck out three batters to pick up the no-hitter.

“Ryan came in and just pounded the strike zone,” Gill said. “He really looked sharp and our defense, our infield…really came up big (Saturday). They played solid ball.”

Defense was a big part of the sweep Saturday. In game one, Los Alamos ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth, but two big defensive plays by Young, at catcher, and Coker, got the Hilltoppers out of the inning unscathed.

At the plate in game two, Cooper was 3-for-3 with a double, three RBI and two runs scored.

In the current 2AAAA standings, Los Alamos has a 1-1/2 game lead over Bernalillo (11-6-1 overall, 5-1 in district), which will desperately be seeking a sweep at home Saturday.