Mike Powers| News-Bulletin photos
Frankie Rocha slides in safely Tuesday to score the first run of the game for Belen in the Eagles’ 11-2 victory over St. Pius.

BELEN — In a battle of two of the highest ranked 4A baseball teams in New Mexico, No. 4 Belen routed No. 2 St. Pius 11-2 Tuesday to begin district 5-4A action.    

The Eagles used a walk, a base hit and two Sartans’ errors to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Frankie Rocha and Diego Avila crossed the plate for BHS.   

St. Pius (10-6, 0-1) quickly struck back, with Michael Deller launching a two-run home run in the second inning off Christian Wilson to tie the game.  

But Wilson, with relief help from Angel Garcia, shut the Sartans down the rest of the way.  

“Christian settled in nicely,” after giving up the home run, according to coach Tom Wisneski. “He didn’t panic.  Nobody did.”  

Belen (11-4, 1-0) took the lead for good in the bottom of the second and when Wilson smashed a solo home run in the third inning the lead was 5-2.   

A six-run sixth inning aided by a bases loaded error helped secure the impressive victory.  

Belen’s Angel Garcia dives back into first base Tuesday against St. Pius, as the Eagles opened district action with an 11-2 win.

Josh Montoya contributed two hits for the Eagles, while Jesse Aragon drove in two runs with a double.  

“The guys played really good defense,” Wisneski said. “We didn’t make mistakes in the field.”  

The Eagles play Friday at Highland in another district game.    

Belen is, again, shaping up to be a title contender in 4A.  

“The schedule that we played early in the season paid dividends,” said Wisneski about a lineup that featured Piedra Vista, Farmington, Clovis and other top teams.    

BHS is in the most competitive district in the state, with Grants earning a No. 6 ranking in the latest MaxPreps poll. Wisneski says going unbeaten in district 4-5A, which also includes Valencia and Highland, is unlikely for any team and nine or ten schools in 4A have a shot at a state title.  

“We figure 20 wins will give us a top four or five seed and we’ll stay home for the first round of the playoffs,” Wisneski believes.  

Belen has won nine of 10 games by an average score of 14-3.  

“There’s no downside to this team,” said Garcia, senior pitcher/infielder. “We’re all hitting the ball well and pitchers are doing the job.”    

Pitching depth on the “bump” has been an upside.   

“We don’t have anybody that’s really the ace,” said Wilson, probably the Eagles top hurler. “All of us can pitch,” including Damian Avila, Logan Gonzalez and Jaden Ferral. 

Wilson said the “pop” on the roster stands out.  

“Our hitting is probably the best thing about our team,” with sluggers that include Brysen Soiles and Isaiah Vargas.    

As the season starts to warm up, figuratively and literally, Wisneski looks for more consistency in all facets.  

“We’ve just got to keep them focused on the prize at hand,” the coach said. “We talked about doing it for the ‘we’ and not the ‘me.’”  

 Los Lunas, Valencia 

Los Lunas held on for an 8-5 victory last week over Valencia, in turquoise, as both teams begin district play this week.

Los Lunas took a 4-0 first inning lead and then held on March 28 to defeat Valencia 8-5 in a game postponed from earlier in the week because of bad weather. The host Jaguars scored three times in the seventh inning to close the gap, out-hit the Tigers 12-11 but committed five errors.    

Isaac Martinez drove in three runs for LLHS, while Matthew Castillo recorded the complete game victory.    

Valencia (6-11, 0-1) opened the district 5-4A schedule Tuesday at Grants, losing 11-2.   

Four weeks into the season, LLHS (7-8) played its first home game Tuesday, defeating Miyamura, 12-1. The Tigers scored six times in the first inning.  

Offensively, Matthew Castillo hit a home run while Fabian Trujillo, Kaiden Reese and Jonah Utash each drove in two runs.   

District 5-5A action starts Saturday with a doubleheader at Manzano. 

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Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.