Mike Powers | News-Bulletin photos
Los Lunas High School base runner Fabian Trujillo just beats the tag by Belen High School third baseman Isaiah Vargas.

The wind died down just enough last Thursday to get the baseball season started for Valencia, Belen and Los Lunas at two different tournaments.

Judging by the early results, there is reason to be optimistic for each team.


Belen Eagles

At the Cleveland tournament this past weekend, Belen posted victories over Clovis, Los Lunas and the host Storm.

The Eagles fought back against the Tigers after trailing 4-3 after the first inning to post a 10-8 victory.

Jaden Ferral got the win in relief for Belen, while Casey Herrell was the Tigers’ leading hitter with three doubles, three runs and two runs batted in.

BHS coach Tom Wisneski believes his pitching staff is better than in recent years.

“We don’t have any great pitching, but we have a lot of good guys,” Wisneski proclaimed. “With that, we can win some games if we cut down on our mistakes and have some timely hitting.”

Wisneski calls first baseman Angel Garcia and catcher Brysen Soiles his “big boppers.

Four seniors will be heavily counted on. Tyler Martinez has committed to Adams State, Luciano Gomez will play college ball in Kentucky, and both Malakhi Chavez and Kenny Trujillo are heading to New Mexico Highlands.

“We have quality kids in our program. We’re trying to get them to be quality baseball players,” said Wisneski, whose father, Al, was a longtime coach of the Eagles.

“Our goal is always to win the state championship,” the coach said.

Los Lunas Tigers

The Tigers went 1-2 in the Cleveland tournament, with a victory over the host Storm and then narrow losses to Belen and Piedra Vista.

Los Lunas has an experienced roster for third-year head coach Paul Cieremans.

“They are out here for business; have fun but they’re here for business,” Cieremans said. “We have some high expectations.”

Those expectations are tempered by the knowledge that the Tigers play in Class 5A against the likes of Rio Rancho, Cleveland and La Cueva.

“The list goes on and on,” says Cieremans.

LLHS has a solid trio of starting pitchers with Ryan Castillo, Noah Madrid and Paul Cieremans, the coach’s son.

“Super-fast” Fabian Trujillo is at the top of the lineup and immediately caused problems in the Belen game, stealing home in the first inning.

Coach Cieremans describes Casey Herrell as “a big stick, a big part of the lineup. Lots of leadership with that guy, too.”

Cieremans says Kaden Chavez, Kaden Bell and up-and-coming newcomer Matthew Castillo will also play key roles.

“We definitely have some room to improve,” coach Cieremans said. “We’re not where we need to be.”


Valencia Jaguars

Valencia’s Daniel Villagas-Hernandez slides in safely against West Mesa.

Valencia hosted the Jaguar Invitational, beating Capital twice and West Mesa before falling to Grants 8-6 in the title game.

VHS played an extra contest after Shiprock was unable to attend because of bad weather.

Third-year VHS coach Carlos Ramirez is confident the Jaguars can improve on last seasons’ 9-16 record.

“We had some inexperience,” Ramirez said about last year, but now, “with older guys, we’ll be able to flip that around — we’re looking to make a push for state.”

He points to veterans Martin Chavez, Eliseo Ramirez, Jacob Apodaca, newcomer Danny Villegas-Hernandez and pitcher Andrew Apodaca.

Ramirez believes the hitting and defense will be a strength.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that can swing it. I think defensively we’re pretty solid, one through nine,” he said.

However, the season could hinge on the pitching.

“We don’t have that ‘shutout,’ guy, but I think our guys can pound the zone,” Ramirez said. “They’re going to help us stay in games, and with our offense and defense we’ll be able to pull those big games off.”

What’s your Reaction?

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.