‘Topper Baseball Season Gets Underway

Head Coach Bryan Neal goes over the roster and batting order for the second game for the ‘Toppers during the annual St. Pius High School Invitational Baseball Tournament this past weekend. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Second baseman Tyler Neal had to go high to catch the throw and could not make the tag in the second inning. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Third baseman Jacob Castille concentrates on the ball to make the catch but the ball arrived late. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

 

By RJ Montaño
Los Alamos Daily Post
rjmontano@ladailypost.com

ALBUQUERQUE – Blustery New Mexico winds, the smell of hot dogs, and the crack of a wooden bat: all signs that spring is just around the corner and the Los Alamos Hilltopper baseball season is under way.

The ‘Toppers spent the weekend facing stiff competition in the St. Pius Invitational with games against Shiprock, Centennial, and Oñate going 1-2 for the tournament.

Two seniors were bright spots for the ‘Toppers, who beat Shiprock 9-1 on Thursday but lost to the Las Cruces schools by a combined 21-2 on Friday and Saturday. Vincent Marciano hit a pair of deep homeruns and Jacob Rutten pitched a complete game on 89 pitches for the first ‘Topper win of the season.

It was the first real field action for the ‘Toppers, who have been forced to play inside the past few weeks due to weather.

In the second game of the tournament, Los Alamos faced off against the Centennial Hawks of Las Cruces. Arthur Steinkamp started on the mound for the ‘Toppers and kept the game close early on with off-speed pitching.

Steinkamp gave up four runs on 61 pitches in 3.1 innings while giving up no walks and nine hits.

In the top of the sixth inning, with two outs, Marciano smacked a 3-2 pitch over the left center wall to keep the ‘Toppers from getting shut out.

Centennial would win the game 10-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning due to time limits.

Los Alamos dropped the fifth place game against 6A opponent Oñate Knights 11-0 on Saturday to finish in sixth place.

“I’m pretty excited, not a lot of numbers, but the guys we do have on the team are really good baseball players,” Head Coach Bryan Neal said. “This [weekend] didn’t go our way, but we competed.”

“[We] made some small mistakes, but it’s early and we’ll get those cleaned up. They’re young and they’ll figure it out,” Neal added.

When asked about Marciano’s two homeruns, Neal was very complementary. “He’s got a really good approach at the plate, he’s worked hard in the off season, and done a really good job of pitch selection and it’s really starting to pay off.”

The ‘Toppers return to action Wednesday, March 7 at Bomber Field when the Santa Fe Demons come to town. First pitch is at 4 p.m.

Tyler Neal shows the ball in his glove to the umpire to prove he made the tag on the runner for the third out in the second inning. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Luis Bojorquez dives back to first to avoid a tag in the fourth inning. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Luke Kirkland, center, picked up a grounder and threw the ball to Arthur Steinkamp in time for the out at first in the fourth inning. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Vincent Marciano connected for an over-the-fence home run in the sixth inning. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

First baseman Arthur Steinkamp intently watches the action on the field. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Vincent Marciano dives for a short fly ball in right field but the ball fell short of his glove. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

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