Ashton Luera

Luna’s Ashton Luera fires a pitch in the late innings of game one vs. Otero.

 Down to its final home series of the regular season, Luna Community College baseball did not disappoint, making each of three contests with Otero competitive and riveting. Ultimately, the Rattlers emerged with three wins, but there was plenty for Rough Rider fans to cheer.

Each of Saturday’s two games was decided by a single run (10-9, 7-6), and Sunday’s finale saw Luna erase a 12-4 deficit with a remarkable eight-run inning before falling 19-16.

Luna trailed 9-8 going into the bottom of the seventh of game one and was down to its final out when Jake Seglem drove in the tying run. The potential winning runner was tagged out at home as he attempted to hurdle the Otero catcher, so the game spilled into extra innings. Ashton Luera, a graduate of Albuquerque Cibola High, denied any runs by the Rattlers in the eighth, but in the ninth, they scored the tying and go-ahead runs. In the bottom of the ninth, Milo Behrens reached on an error with one out before the Rattlers turned a double play to end the game.

Seglem (3 for 4, two runs batted in), Dominic Lucero (2 of 4, one double, one steal, two runs) and Kekoa Ogawa (2 for 4, one double, two runs) paced the Rough Rider offense in game one; Samuel Estrada hit a home run with two RBI. 

Otero’s Nolan Marthaler homered in going 2 for 5 and had four RBI.

In game two, Luna led 3-0 after one inning, 5-3 after three and 5-4 going into the last frame. Otero got hot just in time, scoring three times in the top of the seventh to steal the lead at 7-5. The Riders managed one run in response but ran out of outs.

Ogawa led Luna, going 2 for 3 – including a pair of triples -- with two RBI and three runs. Diego Quinonez also drove in a pair of runs. Both of them and Lucero also shared pitching duties.

Jovannie Bautista and Christian Castaneda collected three hits apiece for Otero.

On Sunday, Otero built a 5-2 lead through two innings and made it 10-2 by the fourth and 12-4 midway through the sixth. That’s when Luna rallied with eigth runs in the bottom of the sixth, capped when Lucero drove in Quinonez to make it 12-12. But Preciado’s grand slam in the following inning helped the Rattlers build an 18-12 lead. Tyler Sunstrom’s three-RBI home run in the bottom of the seventh pulled the Rough Riders within 18-15. Luna got no closer, however, and after Kobe Carpio’s score on a Sunstrom single in the bottom of the ninth, the Riders’ last rally came to a close.

Sunstrom finished 4 for 4 with four RBI; Lucero hit 3 of 4 with two walks, two steals, a run and four RBI; and Carpio, Quinonez and Ashton Whiteaker had two hits each. Defensively, Luna turned three double plays.

Otero’s Castaneda notched five RBI in going 4 of 6 with a double and a triple; Marthaler’s three hits included a home run.

Luna (7-37) and coaches T.C. Nusser and Harry Estep will hit the road for a three-game series at Trinidad State College this Saturday and Sunday in Trinidad, Colo. Beyond that are road series at Lamar and Otero.


Meanwhile, the Luna softball team managed to score runs in each of its four games at Northeastern (Colo.) Junior College but lost four times (17-2, 10-2, 10-2, 13-4) in a road series held in Sterling, Colo. At 26-11 overall and 13-1 in conference, Northeastern is in line for one of the top seeds in the regional playoffs, in large part due to its prolific offense as shown against Luna over the weekend.

Northeastern opened with a 17-2 verdict as heavy winds in the area impacted both teams, and the conditions continued through the weekend. Brianna Maldonado led Luna by hitting 3 of 3 with one run; Raegan Shackelford and Angelica Montanez had two hits apiece, with Montanez driving in two runs.

Maldonado’s RBI single staked Luna to a 1-0 edge after two scoreless frames in game two. Then Rylyn Nelson – tied for second in the nation with 20 home runs – hit a three-run homer to help Northeastern go ahead 4-1. The cushion reached 8-1 before Sinai Cisneros drove in a run to cut it to 8-2 in the sixth. The Plainswomen answered with two more runs in their half of the inning to end it. Cisneros and Victoria Gonzales both had doubles for the Riders in support of Shackelford’s complete game in the pitching circle.

Luna tied game three 2-2 in the top of the third, but the Plainswomen exploited a two-out error to extend its ensuing set of at-bats. The home side pulled back in front and led 6-2 by the end of the third. Ciara Cruz’s triple was a highlight for the Rough Riders opposite a complete game for Michaela Moorehouse (five strikeouts, three hits allowed).

In game four, Montanez’s RBI double got Luna within 6-3 in the third inning. But another two-out rally by Northeastern – aided by defensive miscues – led to a 13-3 tally. Maldonado scored in the top of the fifth but with no more runs forthcoming, the Plainswomen held on to complete the sweep.

Luna (6-36) and head coach Randall Krutsch travel to Western Nebraska for a four-game series Saturday and Sunday. They wrap the regular season with a four-game home series vs. Lamar May 1-2 at Cowgirl Field.

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