By Dave Wagner
Pitcher Ryan Padilla delivered a tie-breaking RBI single with two outs in the fifth inning Tuesday night as Albuquerque Eastdale North defeated Clovis American 5-1 in the winners bracket final of the state 9-10 Little League baseball tournament at Dickenson Field.
Eastdale North advances to Wednesday’s championship round of the tournament, while American will play Roswell Noon Optimist in a 7 p.m. elimination game tonight at Beachum Field. Noon Optimist routed Silver City 19-3 on Tuesday night at Beachum.
Whoever wins tonight will have to beat Eastdale North twice — Wednesday night and Thursday night at Dickenson Field — to take the tournament.
Padilla, a tall left-hander, and American’s Corbin Best were locked in a 1-1 tie with two outs and a runner on in the bottom of the fifth. Singles by Stephen Carabajal and Jake Silva loaded the bases for Eastdale North, and Padilla then pounded a single through the middle to score the go-ahead run.
Third baseman Brent Jones then hit a looping liner to right that went for a three-run double when American’s Antonio Cordova couldn’t come up with a shoestring catch and the ball rolled behind him.
“It could’ve gone either way, but my hat’s off to them,” American manager Hector Vasquez said. “It hurt (to get hits) with the bases loaded. They’re a good ballclub, but we’ll see them on Wednesday.”
Padilla allowed just two hits — both by Lucas Walthers, including a game-tying RBI single in the top of the fifth. He walked three and struck out 11, including eight of 10 batters in one stretch in the middle innings.
Walthers took second on the throw home, advanced to third on a wild pitch before Carlos Garza walked. American then tried a double steal, but Eastdale North second baseman Alex Bergman grabbed the throw in front of the bag and fired back to catcher Tyler Walkowski to nail Walthers trying to score.
“Ryan Padilla was just a warrior for us,” Eastdale North manager Ken Villareal said. “He’s won some critical games for us in district and state.
“You had two quality teams tonight. They (American) have a quality team, and they should have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Best had no walks or strikeouts and allowed 10 hits, including nine singles. Eastdale needed four singles to get its first run in the third, and had four singles and just one run in the fifth before Jones cleared the bases.
“We were hitting the ball, but they made the plays,” Villareal said. “I thought Best did a great job.”
Dominique Villareal, Carabajal, Silva and Jones all went 2 for 3 for Eastdale North.