After three scoreless innings, Belen pulled through with a 5-0 shutout over Los Lunas in a district rivalry game on Friday evening.

“We used their mistakes to help us, whereas we made a couple of mistakes and it didn’t hurt us,” said Belen head coach Tom Wisneski. “I think it was a matter of whoever was going to make the least mistakes was going to win this game.”

The Eagles (8-10, 2-0) struggled offensively early on as the Tigers (10-3, 0-1) only allowed 5 hits. In the fourth inning, sophomore Colten Gonzalez hit a single to send junior Sefe Aragon in for an Eagle run. Junior Danny Ortega hit another single before the inning ended to send junior Ralph Elizondo for another Eagle score, putting Belen up 2-0 heading to the fifth.

Los Lunas held the Eagles scoreless in the fifth inning, but the sixth inning proved to be Belen’s strongest. After a double from Belen junior Luke Aragon and a single from junior Estevan Baca, the game was all but out of reach for the Tigers.

However, hitting was not necessarily the highlight of the night as both pitchers — Belen senior Jadrian Martinez and Los Lunas junior Kade Benavidez — played strong. Notably, Martinez finished with 11 strikeouts.

“(Martinez) is a hell of a pitcher,” said Los Lunas head coach Shuan Reed. “That guy is really good. I think we made him work, but we didn’t make him work enough.”

Wisneski agreed and complimented Benavidez.

Belen senior Jadrian Martinez throws one of his 11 strikeouts on Friday night.
Dustan Copeland | News-Bulletin photo

“When you two guys who throw like that, it’s anybody’s game,” said Wisneski.

“(Benavidez) is a great pitcher, and (Martinez) is a proven guy. When we put him on the mound, that’s what we expect.”

Los Lunas came into the game ranked at the top of 4A New Mexico baseball on maxpreps.com and fourth in a coaches’ poll. Their loss to Belen could be a setback for them, but Reed hopes the Tigers learn from it before they host St. Pius, who coaches voted as the top team in 4A baseball.

“We have to execute better,” said Reed. “If we learn from it, we’re going to be better from it…(the Belen game) is always emotional. Trying to control emotion — that’s always hard. We have to figure out how to control it and harness it.”

Belen, who struggled earlier in the season against larger schools, has improved to 2-0 in district play. They began district with a 13-3 victory at Valencia, and seem to be hitting a stride. Wisneski wants to see more improvement from the Eagles.

“We’re still looking for improvement,” said Wisneski. “We didn’t hit in some key spots. We’re going to have to do that down the stretch, or that score is going to be flip-flopped.”

In other baseball news, Valencia (10-8, 0-2) fell 6-1 at St. Pius on Saturday afternoon. The Jags’ only run came after senior Jeremy DiBartolomeo knocked in a run from junior Robert Connolly.

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Dustan Copeland