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Rough Riders split with Rattlers

Luna baseball (3-5) took the middle two games of its four-game, home-and-home series with Otero Junior College this past weekend, a promising start for the Rough Riders.

The host Rattlers won game one in a 4-3 nailbiter Saturday in La Junta, Colo. Nick Rodriguez and Dustin Sipe had two hits apiece in defeat for LCC, which led 3-1 before Otero’s three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh.

Luna got even with a 6-4 verdict in game two of the doubleheader. Otero led 2-1 going into the fifth when the Rough Riders took control for good with a four-run surge.

Spencer Heyden’s solo home run highlighted the visitors’ effort, as he, Cooper Randall (two doubles) and Ben Smith each collected two hits. Ethan Harden was credited with two RBI. Keaton Christy went six and two-thirds innings on the mound and held the Rattlers to four runs on six hits and four walks with two strikeouts. Trent Dewyer notched a save.

On Sunday at New Mexico Highlands’ Brandt Park, the Riders took the series’ third game, 5-2. Manny Cachora, one of last season’s playmakers, came through with a 3-for-3 showing at the plate, and Sipe drove in two runs. Brandon Petrino improved to 2-0 after striking out seven in a complete-game gem. He limited Otero to two runs on three hits and two walks.

But Otero escaped with a 6-4 win in the series finale. The Rattlers appeared headed to a rout after pinning five runs on the scoreboard through four and a half innings.

Tyler Burch’s two-RBI double in the bottom of the fifth pulled Luna within 5-2. Rodriguez scored via error to make it 6-3 in the bottom of the sixth, and a Cachora groundout scored A.J. Knowles to reduce the margin to 6-4.

Head coach T.C. Nusser and the Rough Riders will journey to Altus, Okla., for a three-game series at Western Oklahoma State this Friday and Saturday. They play at Trinidad State on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Luna’s next home games are Feb. 23 against Dodge City Community College.