Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Prep baseball: Doubleheader split gives Los Lunas an edge

Rio Grande’s Antonio Carmona stops a ground ball against Los Lunas during Thursday’s doubleheader. (Mike Sandoval/For the Journal)

When is a doubleheader split not quite a doubleheader split?

Look no further than the two baseball games Los Lunas and Rio Grande played on Thursday night in the South Valley.

In a matchup of the teams tied for first in District 5-5A, the Tigers won the opener 9-0. The Ravens, by a 6-0 count, took the nightcap.

But it was clearly Los Lunas that won this twin bill.

The teams finished the evening tied for first place at 7-1 in district, but the Tigers (16-7) have the run-differential edge on the Ravens (16-5) based on Thursday’s results.

“It’s easier when it’s in our own hands,” said Los Lunas junior pitcher Ryan Castillo, who tossed a six-hit shutout in the opener.

The short of it: The Tigers win the 5-5A title if they sweep a doubleheader at Albuquerque High a week from Saturday. Anything less, and that opens the door for Rio Grande, which Santa Fe plays two games a week from Saturday, to finish first.

“It’s not over,” Ravens coach Orlando Griego said.

But Rio Grande doesn’t control its fate, which was the main takeaway Thursday night.

Castillo pitched the Tigers to a win, while Rio Grande senior Marcus Sanchez twirled a 2-hit shutout (and took a no-hitter into the sixth) in the late game. Leon Cereceres belted a three-run home run for the Ravens to essentially seal Game 2.

“Going by runs is a terrible way to determine a tiebreaker,” Griego said. “I think that needs to change in our district.”

Griego would prefer a one-game playoff in the case of a two-way tie, but the truth of the Ravens’ current predicament is, they’ll need help from Albuquerque High if they want to win the district’s regular-season title.

As for the Tigers, their first-game victory was much needed.

“We knew we had a little bit of a cushion,” Los Lunas coach Paul Cieremans said.

And now, it’s up to his Tigers to close next week. They finished second to Rio Grande a year ago in 5-5A, and hope to climb to the top rung of that ladder against AHS.

“We’re gonna be hungry,” Cieremans said. “We’re gonna be excited.”

n Also Thursday night, the St. Pius softball team (16-4, 6-0 in 5-4A) went on the road and beat second-place Belen, 13-4, to lock up that district championship.

The Eagles (14-11 overall) are 5-2 in district.

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