American advances with win
Clovis American first baseman Lucas Walthers releases a throw to gun down a Silver City runner during their first round state 9-10 little league tournament game Friday at Dickenson Field. Photo by Eric Kluth
Defense and pitching — and a few breaks — helped Clovis American advance to the winners bracket finals of the state 9-10 Little League tournament at Dickenson Field.
American took advantage of a couple of Carlsbad Shorthorn errors to score three runs in the bottom of the third Saturday night en route to a 6-2 victory.
The Clovis team will take on Albuquerque Eastdale North in Monday’s 7 p.m. winners final at Dickenson. Eastdale North cruised to an 18-1 win over Las Vegas earlier Saturday.
Carlos Garza pitched four innings of one-hit ball before issuing consecutive four-pitch walks to start the fifth. Jared Allen took over and got the side out with only one run scoring, helped by a 4-6-3 double play started by Garza on a ball hit by Shorthorn’s John Gamble.
It was American’s second double play of the night. In the first, third baseman Seth Zarate looked Gamble back to third on a one-out groundout, then first baseman Lucas Walthers gunned down Gamble at the plate to complete a 5-3-2 twin killing.
“It was nothing but a defensive strategy tonight,” Clovis manager Hector Vasquez said. “The double plays really picked us up.”
Garza struck out the side in the second, then extended his streak to five in the third before giving up a two-out single to Michael Strickland. He got out of it by striking out Gamble.
American put together its rally after Shorthorn’s Chris Rodriguez retired the first two hitters in the bottom of the third. Walters was hit by a pitch, Garza reached when Rodriguez couldn’t handle his slow tap in front of the mound and T.J. Serna beat out an infield hit.
A wild pitch allowed courtesy runner Kyle Wornell to score the game’s first run before Corbin Best hit the ball sharply back to Rodriguez. He knocked it down, then elected to go home only to throw the ball wildly as two more runs scored.
Clovis padded its lead in the bottom of the fifth on a single by Garza and an RBI double by Serna, who took third on the throw home. Adrian Loya’s groundout brought in Serna, then a walk to Wornell, a wild pitch and a two-out single to right by Chris Potocki plated another run.
Carlsbad scored in the sixth on an error and a run-scoring double by catcher Jed Janes.
“We didn’t execute tonight,” Shorthorn manager Bobby Love said. “The meat of our lineup went 9 for 10 (Friday night in a win over Pojoaque), and tonight I think they went 1 for 6.”
Love wasn’t sure Gamble didn’t beat out the double play ball in the fifth. One run would have scored for sure, and a second run was coming which would have tied the game, he noted.
“Three-to-one at the end of the inning instead of 3-3 is a big momentum change,” said Love, whose team faces Roswell Noon Optimist in a 7 p.m. elimination tilt tonight at Dickenson.
Vasquez praised the work of both of his pitchers.
“Our pitching was on tonight,” he said. “We came in with Jared Allen, and he finished real well for us.”
Clovis 10, Silver City 0 (Friday) — Clovis wasted no time taking control, sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring five teams in each of the first two innings. The game ended on the 10-run rule after four.
Right fielder Antonio Cordova went 3 for 3 and drove in five runs — two on a single in the first and three on a bases-clearing double in the second. Zarate drove in three runs with a pair of singles and also drew a walk while Best was also 3 for 3 for American, which collected 10 hits.
Best pitched the first three innings, allowing no hits and striking out two. He did have to pitch out of a second-and-third, none-out jam in the third inning after his teammates committed a couple of errors.
Garza worked the fourth, surrendering a leadoff infield single to Carlos Lucero for Silver City’s only hit.