'Toppers, Tigers clash in 4A opener

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Both Los Alamos Hilltopper diamond squads will compete in the first round of the state Class 4A playoffs this weekend.

The state baseball playoffs gets going Friday at various sites around the state. As for the Hilltoppers, they will host the Aztec Tigers in the opening round series. This will be the second consecutive season the Hilltoppers will be at home to open the 4A playoffs.

Last year, Los Alamos was awarded the No. 7 overall seed but fell in straight games of the best-of-3 series to the Miyamura Patriots.

This season, Los Alamos enters the playoffs as the No. 8 seed while the Tigers are the No. 9 seed. The winner of this weekend’s series will, in all likelihood, will face off against the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, the Piedra Vista Panthers.

Los Alamos started off rocky this season against one of the toughest schedules in 4A, but Hilltopper manager Mike Gill said he saw the team turn things around about two weeks before the start of District 2 play with wins over Miyamura and Valencia and a close loss to Durango, Colo.

Aztec (16-9) comes from District 1, which boasts three entries into the playoffs, along with Piedra Vista and third-seeded Farmington.

The Tigers had a solid early season win over Miyamura and swept two games against Española Valley, including a 12-2 win in early April.

For the Hilltopper softball team, they enter the 4A playoffs as the No. 12 seed after finishing as the runner-up in the District 2 race in 2013. The Hilltoppers finished with a very solid 10-2 district record (14-11 overall) but was topped in the final standings by Bernalillo, which earned only the No. 7 seed despite losing just one game this year, that to Los Alamos.

Their opponent in the first round is the Los Lunas Tigers (19-7), the tournament’s No. 5 seed.

Los Alamos and Los Lunas have some recent history.

In 2012, Los Lunas thumped Los Alamos 10-0 in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament. Los Lunas led just 1-0 after three innings but scored six times in the top of the fourth, taking advantage of a pair of Los Alamos errors, both of them coming on bunt coverage.

Hilltopper manager Roger Anaya said his squad has been working hard in practice to avoid the same thing from happening this season.

Los Alamos’ game at Los Lunas is set for 11 a.m. Saturday. The winner of that game will face the winner between fourth-seeded Aztec and 13th-seeded Deming.