Clovis American’s Adrian Loya lays down a bunt attempt during Wednesday’s state 9-10 Little League tournament championship game against Albuquerque Eastdale North at Dickenson Field. Photo by Eric Kluth
By Dave Wagner
Albuquerque Eastdale North erupted for eight runs in the bottom of the third Wednesday night, breaking open a close game en route to 11-1 victory over Clovis American in the finals of the state 9-10 Little League all-star baseball tournament at Dickenson Field.
The contest ended in the bottom of the fourth on the 10-run rule. Eastdale North completed a 9-0 run through District 8 and state tournament play in which it allowed less than two runs per game, manager Ken Villareal noted.
“It’s just a tribute to the kids’ hard work that started on June 15,” Villareal said. “This is the fruits of our labor.”
American manager Hector Vasquez gave Eastdale its due.
“They hit the ball on us tonight, from both sides of the plate,” Vasquez said. “But these kids (American) played with a lot of heart.
“We’d hoped to get this far — a little farther is always better — but I’m deeply indebted to these kids. They’re awesome.”
American broke through in the top of the second on a walk to Seth Zarate, a stolen base, a wild pitch and a two-out RBI bloop single past shortstop by catcher Miles Lansford.
American pitcher Lucas Walters started the game strong, retiring the first four hitters before Eastdale North pushed in front 2-1 in the bottom of the inning on a two-out, two-run single by Chris Benson.
Then the roof fell in.
With one out and runners in scoring position in the Eastdale North third, Jake Silva lined a two-run double to left. He took third on a wild pitch and scored on Ryan Padilla’s single for a 5-1 lead.
Later, Nicky Sagartz and Alex Bregman hit bases-loaded, two-run singles to chase Walthers. Walks to Steven Carabajal and Silva forced in another run before the inning ended on a popup with the bases loaded.
“We opened up our bats tonight, and we found holes versus the first night we played them (a 5-1 Eastdale North win in Monday’s winners bracket final),” Villareal said. “It was a total team effort. (Walthers) started off strong, but his control started to leave him and we took advantage of it.”
Padilla record two of Eastdale’s eight hits. Meantime, Jones pitched the first three innings and Carabajal the fourth, combining to allow just two hits.