Josh Baca fires a pitch during the Steers’ state playoff game against Melrose.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain photos

After leading their team to a final-four finish in the Class A state baseball playoffs, Magdalena’s Josh Baca and Kaleb Castanon are headed to the New Mexico High School Coaches Association All-Star games set for June 2-3 at Cleveland High School.

Together, the pair helped lead the Steers to their first district championship since 2017 and a 13-4 overall record. At one point in the season, Castanon was New Mexico’s top hitter  (.661 season average) and was ranked eighth in the country.

“When I think about these two individuals and all the hard work that we have put in, I’m not surprised that they’re going to the all-star game. These guys never missed a practice or off-season workout. You get out of something exactly what you put in. These two earned this honor the hard way – through dedication and persistence,” Steers head coach Kyl Candelaria said.

Given his national ranking in batting average, it’s no surprise Castanon led Magdalena in hits with 41 (62 at-bats) in 16 games, and 15 of those raps went for extra bases with 10 doubles, 4 triples, and a home run to his credit.

Magdalena baseball Melrose

Castanon also shored up the Steers’ defense at shortstop with a .882 fielding average.

Baca’s greatest asset was he could do anything Candelaria asked of him, from playing the infield to pitching to patience at the plate that produced timely hits and a team-high three home runs.

Baca hit .533, and his 32 hits drove in 24 runs. His 1.91 earned run average came in relief appearances, and he had three saves. Baca’s glove produced a stunning .947 fielding percentage.

The NMHSCA’s all-star game is a three-series between the green and red teams, and the games will be played at Cleveland High School’s (Rio Rancho) varsity baseball field with a Friday game at 7 p.m. Saturday’s doubleheader will start at 10 a.m., with the second game will follow 30 minutes after the first game.