By Dave Wagner
The Clovis Zia League All-Stars advanced to the finals of the Tri-County League Minor League All-Star tournament Wednesday night by edging Quay County 5-4 at Beachum Field.
Zia will meet undefeated Clovis American at 7 p.m. tonight in the double elimination tournament.
Third baseman Phillip Martinez lined a two-run double to left-center in the bottom of the third, putting Zia ahead for good 3-2. Zia manufactured two more runs in the fourth on a single by Mathew Encinas, an error on Adam Anaya’s bunt, a wild pitch and run-scoring groundouts by A.J. Marez and Jake Lopez.
Quay County made it close in the fifth on an infield hit by Jordan Maestas, a passed ball, Dalton Wood’s RBI single and a run-scoring double by Jantzen Darnell. But winning pitcher Michael Chavez was able to set down five of the final six hitters to preserve the win.
“We’re not playing to our ability, but our defense is keeping us in game,” Zia coach Albert Marez said. “We’re not expecting a deep ball. We’ve just got to get those shots in to get one run at a time.”
Quay County edged Zia 7-6 in a first-round game at Tucumcari with two runs in the top of the sixth to win the earlier meeting, but had no such luck in this one.
“It all comes down to hitting,” Quay County coach Michael Esquibel said. “Our bottom half of the lineup was hitting the ball, but our top hitters weren’t producing.”
Still, both games against Zia were competitive.
“Games like that are good,” Esquibel said. “They’re exciting when it comes down to the end.”
Zia scored a run in the first on consecutive singles by Marez, Lopez and Anthony Chavez. Quay County went ahead in the third by pushing across a pair of runs, with Jake Martinez scoring on a passed ball and pitcher Cameron Martinez tallying on the back end of a double steal with Wood.
That lead was short lived. Lopez was hit by a pitch leading off and Anthony Chavez bunted for a hit before Martinez drilled a shot to the fence to plate both runners.
Anthony Chavez was the only player in the game with more than one hit, going 2 for 2 with a walk.
Michael Chavez allowed six hits, walked three and struck out six. Montana also went the distance for Quay County, giving up seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts.