LA will be at home for 1st round of state

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By Mike Cote

About the only thing the Los Alamos Hilltopper baseball team was sure of heading into Selection Sunday was that it was going to appear in the playoffs.
Now, the Hilltoppers know their opponent. More importantly, they know they’re staying home.
Los Alamos (17-9) earned the No. 8 seed for the upcoming Class 4A tournament and is paired up against Aztec, the No. 9 seed, for this weekend’s series.
The first round of the 4A playoffs consists of a best-of-3 series. The top seed in each of the eight pairings will host the series.
Los Alamos and Aztec (16-7) will meet in the first game of the best-of-3 set at 4 p.m. Friday. The second game is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday and the third game, if necessary, will start at approximately 1 p.m.
For those wondering where the Hilltoppers were going to fall heading into the playoffs, it was no better than even money whether they would get a home game. The Hilltoppers won District 2-4A, their fifth consecutive district title, to qualify for the postseason, but they had a 5-5 record against nondistrict 4A competition, although four of those five losses came against the same two teams, Piedra Vista and Los Lunas.
Piedra Vista, as expected, was awarded the No. 1 overall seed and will most likely be the opponent of the Los Alamos-Aztec winner in next week’s second round.
The second round, which starts Thursday in Albuquerque, and subsequent rounds are all single-elimination contests.
Aztec was an at-large invitee into the state tournament. The Tigers finished in third place in District 1, one of the toughest districts in the state despite having just four competing teams, behind Piedra Vista and third-seeded Farmington.
Aztec finished in the No. 9 position in the Class 4A power rankings, one spot ahead of Los Alamos, and finished its regular season with two consecutive wins.
The Hilltoppers haven’t lost a game since April 6 and have outscored their opponents 114-23 in their last 10 games, all victories.
Los Alamos’ district foe, Bernalillo, surprisingly squeezed into the playoffs, albeit as the 16th and final seed. Bernalillo (9-17) only beat one nondistrict opponent and lost 13 of 14 games to open the season. However, Bernalillo swept Española Valley in Saturday’s season-ending doubleheader to jump ahead of the Sundevils for the runner-up spot in 2-4A.
Española Valley (16-9) was excluded from the field of 16 and ends its season with the dubious distinction of being the team with the best record that was not invited to the 4A postseason.
The tournament will continue through Saturday. The 4A championship game will be played at Lobo Field in Albuquerque.
Class 4A Schedule

First Round

Best of 3, Friday and Saturday

(16) Bernalillo at (1) Piedra Vista
(9) Aztec at (8) Los Alamos
(12) Artesia at (5) Los Lunas
(13) Valencia at (4) Santa Teresa
(14) Centennial at (3) Farmington
(11) Miyamura at (6) Albuquerque Academy
(10) Deming at (7) St. Pius
(15) Belen at (2) Goddard


May 16

Bernalillo-Piedra Vista winner vs. Aztec-Los Alamos winner at La Cueva High School, noon.
Artesia-Los Lunas winner vs. Valencia-Santa Teresa winner at La Cueva High School, 3 p.m.
Centennial-Farmington winner vs. Miyamura-Academy winner at Eldorado High School, 3 p.m.
Deming-St. Pius winner vs. Belen-Goddard winner at Eldorado High School, noon.