Zia pitcher Abe Montoya fires a second-inning pitch in Wednesday’s Junior League championship game at Brady Field. Zia defeated Roosevelt County 9-2. Photo by Kevin Wilson.
By Kevin Wilson
On a night where nothing went right for Roosevelt County, everything went just right for the Zia All-Stars.
Zia got instant momentum from a first-inning triple play, and its pitchers scattered seven hits over seven innings in a 9-2 blowout win for the Junior League championship at Brady Field.
Zia will move on to the state tournament, which starts Saturday at Belen and South Valley Park in Albuquerque.
Zia, which lost to Roosevelt County on Tuesday to set up Wednesday’s finale, never looked back after the first inning, which was a microcosm of the night for both clubs.
Roosevelt started off strong, as Ryan Acosta and Wesley Gilmore each reached base. But Tom Sullivan lined out to third base on a hit-and-run attempt. Zia third baseman Nathan Lewis caught the line drive at third, tagged out Acosta and threw a lob back to first base to easily double up Gilmore for the third out.
Zia followed up the shocking triple play with a three-run first, highlighted by a blown double play from Roosevelt and a two-out, two-run single from Abe Montoya.
It was all the offense that Zia needed, as Montoya and Gary Hanks dodged bullet after bullet on the mound. Montoya came out of the fourth inning unscathed despite a bases-loaded, no-out jam, and Roosevelt only got two runs in the fifth on another bases-loaded, no-out situation.
“Abe, he pitched a really solid game through the fifth,” Zia coach Tony Johnson said. “I brought Gary Hanks to finish it and he did an excellent job.”
Roosevelt was consistent on offense, except when runners were in scoring position.
In all, the Roosevelt All-Stars left the bases loaded twice and stranded 10 runners on the night. Their only two runs came in the fifth, with a bases-loaded walk to Danbom and an infield single from Jonathan Gallegos.
Roosevelt cut the lead to 5-2, but Zia sealed it in the fifth with four unearned runs. Josh Burrell drove in two with a triple, then made it 9-2 after an overthrow allowed him to come home.
Zia played an errorless game, compared to six errors for Roosevelt County on what Roosevelt coach Joe Gilmore amounted to as a bad game.
“It just seemed like nothing went right for us,” Gilmore said. “But give them credit, they’re a good ballclub.
“We made mistakes and they didn’t, simple as that.”