By Dave Wagner
It’s been a couple of weeks since the Clovis American League All-Stars have played a game, but coach Hector Vasquez says his squad has made good use of the downtime.
American will host the eight-team, double-elimination 9-10-year-old Little League state tournament beginning tonight. Two games are scheduled for both American’s home field, Dickenson, and for Beachum Field.
The District 3 champion American All-Stars open against District 7 winner Silver City in an 8 p.m. contest at Dickenson.
“We don’t know much about Silver City, but we’re ready to go at it,” Vasquez said Thursday. “We’re anxious to get back out there.”
The Americans won the District 3 championship, staving off a five-run rally in the final inning by Clovis Zia for an 11-10 win in the finals on July 10 at Dickenson.
“It’s been like that for me all season,” said Vasquez, referring to league play. “Most of the games have been decided by one or two (runs).”
He said the team has worked hard in the interim.
“It’s been a good thing for us,” Vasquez said. “We’ve been able to study the (District 3 tournament results), and see why things happened. It’s hard to get a team together in a week and a half, but now we’ve been together for five weeks.”
Win or lose, both teams return to action at 8 p.m. on Saturday. They are bracketed with District 6 champion Carlsbad Shorthorn and District 1 winner Pojoaque, who meet at 8 p.m. today at Beachum.
Vasquez said right-hander Corbin Best would get the pitching start in tonight’s game, with right-hander Carlos Garza going on Saturday. They are backed up by Jarod Allen and Seth Zarate.
The first championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Dickenson. A second game, if necessary, would be played at 7 p.m. Thursday, also at Dickenson.
The state tournament is the season’s final round of Little League competition for 9-10-year-old players.
State 11-12 tournament — Clovis American faces District 4 winner Taos at 5:30 p.m. today in the last of four first-round games in the state 11-12-year-old tournament at Keys Park in Las Vegas.
Those teams are bracketed with Artesia (District 2) and Albuquerque Mile High (District 5), who play at 3:30 p.m. Winners meet at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, with the losers playing at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
All the teams go into the event knowing little about the competition.
“I have to assume that because they’re here they can all play,” American coach Tom Drake said Thursday. “I anticipate we’ll have to play well to advance tomorrow.”
Drake said right-hander Brett Anderson will get the start in tonight’s game.
“I think we’ve got pretty good depth,” Drake said of his squad’s pitching. “We’re fortunate that way. We’ve got five or six guys who can go.”
American advanced to the state meet with a 4-2 win over Zia in the District 3 finals on July 15 at Dickenson. The state winner goes on to regional competition in early August in Waco, Texas, with that champion advancing to the Little League World Series in late August at Williamsport, Pa.
Senior state tournament — Clovis’ entry in the double-elimination Senior Division (age 15-16) state tournament went 1-2 this week at Hobbs.
Deming scored eight runs in the third and went on to a 14-4 first-round win over Clovis on Monday night.
“Our starting pitcher, Jared Montoya, did a good job,” Clovis coach Rudy Sierra said. “But our defense just wasn’t there.”
Eric Garcia led the Clovis attack with a single and a double. He scored two runs.
Clovis then bounced back behind the pitching of Christian Sierra (10 strikeouts) for a 2-1 win over Las Vegas in an eight-inning losers bracket game on Tuesday. Domingo Diaz singled to drive in Garcia, who had singled and stolen his way around to third, with the deciding run.
Robert Windham’s triple scored Simone Salgura with the team’s first run in the second inning.
Albuquerque Herisco eliminated Clovis on Wednesday with a 7-4 decision, riding a six-run first.
“It’s hard to bounce back from that,” Rudy Sierra said. “We were coming back on them, but we just didn’t have enough.”
Windham hit a two-run homer for Clovis in the fourth while Garcia hit a run-scoring single and Brian Clark added an RBI double in the fifth.