The Los Lunas Tigers will play for the class 5A state High School baseball championship on Saturday after a 5-2 win over Sandia in a semifinal game Friday at Farmington. The Tigers will play for the title at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Ricketts Park.
They will play the winner of the other semifianal, Carlsbad or La Cueva (no score was available at News-Bulletin press time).
Senior Josh Hernandez struck out 13 and scattered six hits to earn the win. He also homered and drove in three runs.
Los Lunas struck early with a run in the top of the first inning. The Tigers used the entire field to produce the run. With one out, Nathan Romero dropped a double just inside the left field foul line. One out later, Carlos Castillo doubled just inside the right field line to score Romero.
Los Lunas extended its lead to 3-0 in the third inning on back-to-back home runs by Hernandez and Castillo.
The Tigers scored two unearned runs off Matador starter Kenny Clenaghan in the sixth. Hernandez knocked in both runs with a two-out single to make the score 5-0.
Sandia rallied in its last at bat; Raynor Lynn hit a two-run home run with two out in the bottom of the seventh. Mike McDuffie followed with a single, and Hernandez hit Clenaghan with a pitch to bring the tying run to the plate. But Hernandez struck out Eric Miller to end the game.
Los Lunas had seven hits in the game. Hernandez and Castllo were both 2 for 3 at the plate and drove in all five of Los Lunas’ runs. J.D Garcia was also 2 for 3 with two doubles.
Castillo will be the Tigers’ starting pitcher in Saturday’s championship game.