Big third inning rally sinks ’Toppers

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ALBUQUERQUE — A 10-run second inning on the road sank the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team in a big Class 4A match-up Tuesday.
The St. Pius X Sartans pounded out 8 hits in a huge third inning rally, knocking Los Alamos starter Jordan Hammock out of the ballgame. The first eight hitters of the inning safely reached base and Los Alamos couldn’t stop the bleeding.
The huge rally propelled the Sartans to an 11-0 win. The Sartans closed out the game in 4-1/2 innings.
Tuesday’s loss is one that could very well come back to haunt the Hilltoppers following the regular season. The loss dropped the Hilltoppers to 1-5 against Class 4A competition and could cause their stock to drop if they are in need of an at-large bid to get into the postseason.
In the bottom of the third, St. Pius first baseman Kaitlyn Archibeque hit a sharp single to left-center to drive in two runs and get the rally going. Three of the next four batters also came through with base hits and the problems for Los Alamos mounted with a big throwing error on a routine ground ball that allowed another run to score.
“We were hoping to get through that inning without having to switch pitchers,” Hilltopper manager Roger Anaya said. “I was thinking about making the switch because they seemed dialed in on Jordan.”
Hammock struck out Allie De La Cruz and got Vanessa Garcia to pop out to short right field in consecutive at-bats, but St. Pius came through with two more base hits and a walk before Hammock was pulled in favor of Emilee Jones.
Jones gave up a two-run single on her first pitch, but got Noelle Fowler to ground out to short to end the inning.
Offensively, Los Alamos (2-6) didn’t get much going against hard-throwing Nicole Madrid. Madrid worked the bottom of the strike zone effectively throughout her five innings of work, giving up just five hits, two of those in the top of the fifth as Los Alamos tried to mount some sort of rally and extend the game.
Kristin Christensen led off the second inning with a double to the base of the fence in left-center, but never made it past second base as Madrid struck out the next two batters and got a third to pop up harmlessly to Archibeque.
Prior to Tuesday, Los Alamos had scored 22 runs in its previous three games but only got one runner as far as third base against St. Pius (5-8).
Los Alamos has three games scheduled for this weekend at the Kristin Griego Invitational in Rio Rancho — the first one against the host Rams — before the start of its District 2-4A season at Bernalillo Wednesday.
“We’ll concentrate on our batting for the next couple of days,” Anaya said. “We had opportunities, but we’ve got to go out there and take advantage. We play well with the lead but we didn’t get it today.”