The Los Lunas Tigers turned up the power and shocked the Las Cruces Bulldawgs in both games of a doubleheader that opened the District 3-5A high school baseball season on Saturday at Las Cruces.
Powered by five home runs and some mighty good pitching, Los Lunas throttled the ‘Dawgs by scores of 14-0 in five innings, and 16-3 in six.
“The first game, we hit the ball extremely hard from top to bottom,” said Tiger head coach Steve Contreras. “The second game, we put the ball in play and forced them into some errors.”
The Tigers put the ball over the fence and out of play three times in the second game. Brian Holmes, Carlos Castillo and Matt Baca each hit home runs in the contest. Baca, a sophomore, also homered in the first game, as did junior Nathan Romero.
The doubleheader sweep gave the Tigers (7-4 overall) the early lead in the district race with a 2-0 record. Alamogordo and Las Cruces Mayfield split games on Saturday to tie for second at 1-1. Cruces is all alone at 0-2, and Anthony Gadsden was idle.
Los Lunas pounded out 15 hits and scored in each inning in Saturday’s opener. After scoring single runs in the first and second innings, they exploded for seven in the third to take the charge out of the Bulldawgs.
James Alarcon went 4 for 4 in the game, including a pair of doubles. Romero was 2 for 4, and Josh Hernandez was 2 for 3.
Hernandez was also the winning pitcher, throwing a two-hit shutout.
“Josh was hitting his spots and getting good, solid defense,” Contreras said.
The Tigers were nearly flawless in the field, committing just one error in the two games.
Las Cruces scored two runs in the second inning off Castillo, the Tigers’ starter in Game 2, to take a short-lived 2-1 lead. The Tigers struck for six runs in the third inning and five in the fourth to build a 10-2 lead. Four more runs in the sixth put the Bulldawgs away.
The Tigers collected 12 hits in the second game, led by Baca, Castillo and Holmes, who were each 2 for 3 with a homer. They also benefited from seven Las Cruces errors.
Castillo pitched four innings and earned the win to improve to 4-0. Larry Sutherland mopped up, recording five strikeouts in two innings. The two combined to give up five Las Cruces hits.
“It was an excellent job by Josh and Carlos,” Contreras said of his senior starting pitchers. “And Larry is a good guy to have come on in relief. He has a lot of pitches, and he keeps them off balance.”