Two former Los Lunas High School baseball players, Carlos Castillo and Josh Hernandez, earned high honors from the New Mexico High School Baseball Coaches Association for their play during the 2002 season.
Hernandez earned the highest honors, being selected as Player of the Year for Class 3-5A. The association picked Hernandez to the All-State first-team as a pitcher and the second-team as a shortstop, behind Rio Rancho’s Sal Puentes. Castillo also was selected to the All-State second-team at catcher, behind Carlsbad’s Matt Jackson.
Castillo and Hernandez led the Tigers to the Class 5A state championship game this season. The Tigers finished with a 19-6 record, including their 8-1 loss to Carlsbad in the state final.
The two players are representing Los Lunas at the 27th Annual North-South All-Star Series being played at Apodaca Park in Las Cruces this weekend, playing for the South squad. The series opened with a single game Friday night (no score was available at News-Bulletin press time) and concludes with a doubleheader beginning at noon on Saturday.
Reached earlier this week at his dorm room on the New Mexico State University campus, where the all-stars are being housed, Hernandez was surprised to be told that he had been picked as the state’s top player. “Oh yeah?” he said. “I really didn’t expect that.”
The news came as little surprise to anyone else. He was the state’s leading hitter with a .645 batting average, six home runs and 32 RBIs in 22 regular season games. He was also arguably the best pitcher in the state, posting a 0.995 ERA and 9-1 record while striking out 101 batters in 70 1/3 innings pitched this season, including the state playoffs.
“That’s a real big honor because that’s voted on by coaches throughout the state,” Tiger baseball coach Steve Contreras said of Hernandez’s Player of the Year selection. “Through his last two years in Los Lunas, he’s showed he was the best player in the state.”
Contreras said he considered Castillo the state’s best catcher. The Tigers’ backstop batted .541 this season. He led the team with eight home runs and 40 RBIs.
Castillo is following in the footsteps of his older brothers Randy and Marcos, who also played in the North-South Series. Carlos said he was honored to be selected to the team.
“It’s great to be playing in an all-star game with the best players in state. You go out there and do your best and just try to shine,” he said.
“It’s cool to play with all these guys,” said Hernandez. “You go out and have fun and play one more game as a high school player.”
Hernandez will attend El Paso Community College next fall. Castillo said he was 95 percent sure he would attend La Mar Community College in Colorado.
The high school teammates continue to be teammates with the Albuquerque Cubs, a Connie Mack team, this summer.