Everything Ryan Castillo needed in the way of support, he got in the first three minutes.
Castillo’s Los Lunas teammates staked their ace to a first-inning run, and the visiting Tigers — making their debut in the Albuquerque Metro Baseball Championships — beat Valley 5-0 on Monday afternoon in the first round of the four-games-in-six-days event.
No. 9 Los Lunas and No. 10 Cibola were the two upset winners on Monday, joining No. 1 Rio Rancho, No. 2 La Cueva, No. 3 Cleveland, No. 4 Volcano Vista, No. 5 St. Pius and No. 6 Sandia in the quarterfinals.
Wednesday’s quarterfinals, all at 3:30 p.m., feature Los Lunas at Rio Rancho, St. Pius at Volcano Vista, Sandia at Cleveland, and Cibola at La Cueva.
Castillo, the senior right-hander for Los Lunas, scattered five hits and struck out 11 in a complete game.
“I know their middle does some damage, so I didn’t want to the beginning of the lineup to get on base so they could score runs,” said Castillo (2-1).
Castillo is Los Lunas’ top starter, and coach Paul Cieremans said it was his turn in the rotation after throwing a handful of innings last Thursday. Valley, meanwhile, did not use its ace, lefty Alex Gilliam.
“As a senior, he has grown tons,” Cieremans said of Castillo. “These guys have been playing together since they were about four years old, the seniors, and so now it’s just a matter of maturing and playing at the higher level. We’re getting there, but we’re not there yet. We’re taking steps in the right direction.”
Fabian Trujillo led off the game with a triple to right-center off Valley starter Caeden Jojola, and scored moments later on a passed ball for the game’s first run.
Tigers catcher Paul Cieremans, son of the head coach, blooped an RBI single to right-center for a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth.
When Castillo had some trouble, he and the Tigers (5-5) wriggled out of it. Los Lunas turned a strikeout/throw him out double play in the third inning, and Castillo escaped damage after the Vikings opened the fifth with consecutive singles from Chris Lance and Camden Barth. Castillo picked off one runner, which almost certainly saved a run.
In the top of the seventh, Los Lunas picked up some very loud insurance as Kaden Chavez took a first-pitch fastball over the fence in right-center for a two-out, three-run home run.
Rio Rancho (8-1-2) rolled past Manzano 14-0 in 4½ innings on Monday. Left-hander Jason Parker struck out nine Monarchs in four innings. The Rams had a nine-run fourth inning; Niko Alcala hit a home run for Rio Rancho leading off the third inning.
Alcala, Vascon Smith and Dylan Tinker each had two hits for the Rams.
No. 2 La Cueva beat No. 15 Del Norte 11-1, also in 4½ innings. Jackson Kay had an RBI triple in a five-run second inning for the Bears.
No. 3 Cleveland defeated No. 14 Albuquerque High 7-1. Silas Hilton had an RBI triple, Chase Tyler was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs and pitcher Anthony Del Angel gave up one run in four innings.
At Volcano Vista, the fourth-seeded Hawks routed No. 13 West Mesa 16-2. Anthony Gonzales, fresh off helping the Hawks win state basketball, was 2-2 with four RBIs, and Lucian Dixon homered and drove in three.
Fifth-seeded St. Pius rallied to beat 12th-seeded Eldorado 6-4, as the Sartans scored five times in the last two innings as they came from behind to beat the Eagles for the second time this season.
Ben Martinez drove in the tying run in the sixth for St. Pius as it squared things at 4-all. The go-ahead run scored on a bases-loaded walk.
No. 6 Sandia made quick work of No. 11 Atrisco Heritage 11-1. Elijah Bustillo was 2-for-3 with four RBIs, and two Matador pitchers combined on a five-inning no-hitter.
At Rio Grande, Seth Galfano tossed a complete-game six-hitter for the banged-up and 10th-seeded Cougars, who are down several starters but their piecemeal lineup helped them down No. 7 Rio Grande. 6-3.