By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Left-hander Jakus Martinez pitched a three-hitter and also doubled and scored the go-ahead run Wednesday night to lift Quay County past American 3-2 at Dickenson Field in the losers bracket finals of the double-elimination 12-year-old District 3 Little League All-Star tournament.
Quay County advances to the championship round where it will need two wins over Roosevelt County to take the district title and advance to state competition beginning July 22 in Carlsbad. Quay and Roosevelt play at 7 p.m. today at Dickenson and, if necessary, at 7 p.m. Saturday at Rotary Park in Portales.
Martinez gave up a run in the first on a leadoff single by T.J. Serna, a two-out walk to Trent Barclay and an RBI single by Lucas Walthers. Serna hit a single in the second to score Morgan Gomez, who had walked with two out, but American did not get another baserunner as Martinez retired the final 13 hitters.
Quay County tied it in the bottom of the third, then went ahead when Martinez lined an 0-2 pitch for an opposite-field double to left in the fifth and came around on two wild pitches.
“We picked up the pace,” Quay manager Michael Esquibel said. “I’m just excited; everybody played a good game.
“I don’t think I could have asked for any more out of these guys.”
Three American pitchers limited Quay to five hits, including a pair of singles by Jordan Maestas. Quay tied it in the third on a double by Dalton Wood, two walks, a run-scoring wild pitch and Jantzen Darnell’s run-scoring single.
American dropped into the losers bracket on Saturday in a rain-shortened, 7-6 loss to Roosevelt County.
“They’re a pretty sound team,” American manager John Austin said of Quay. “They work well together.
“I’m just happy to be a part of this organization and a part of these kids. I don’t have a son or anything; I just love baseball.”
American 12, Zia 2 (9-10-year-olds) — At Portales, American advanced to the championship game by run-ruling Zia with four runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Jarron Hill had three hits for American while David Sweet hit a two-run, inside-the-park home run in the fifth. American needs two wins over Quay County — the teams meet on Friday at Rotary Park and, if necessary, on Saturday at Dickenson — to wrest the title and earn a berth in state competition beginning July 23 in Albuquerque.