American’s Ethan Dennie jumps on home play after belting a two-run, first-inning homer on Monday in a District 3 Little League 11-12 division game against Zia at Dickenson Field. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
The Clovis Zia All-Stars proved Monday night that, as Yogi Berra once said, it’s never over ’til it’s over.
Isac Rodriguez whacked two long home runs, then watched his teammates pick up the offensive slack in the final two innings as Zia rallied from a seven-run deficit to oust Clovis American 15-14 at Dickenson Field in a losers bracket game of the 11-12 division District 3 Little League all-star tournament.
Rodriguez hit a three-run homer in the first, doubled in the third, added a solo homer in the fourth and then walked to start Zia’s five-run rally in the top of the sixth. In addition, he pitched the final four innings in relief, working two scoreless frames at the end.
Zia hosts winners bracket champion Roosevelt County at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Beachum Field, and will need to win that one and another game on Friday in Portales to wrest the championship in the double-elimination tournament.
Zia coach David Lopez noted that his team managed to overcome six fielding miscues.
“If you get rid of the errors, we could’ve run away with it,” he said. “(American) capitalized on our errors.
“But my boys stuck in there. We just started hitting the ball.”
Collin Guthals added a two-run homer for Zia, which pulled to 14-13 in the sixth on an RBI double by Michael Cordova and a two-run single by Julian Lopez. The deciding runs in scored on a wild pitch and a throwing error.
“We just didn’t hit (at the end),” American coach Albert Marez said. “We started off well, but we just quit hitting.
“Zia came out ready to play. They wanted it, so they’re deserving of it. We support them 100 percent now (in the finals).”
After Rodriguez put his team up 3-0 in the top of the first, American’s Ethan Dennie hit a game-tying, two-run homer in the bottom half. American went on to take a 6-3 lead in that inning as Dustin Provencio belted a two-run triple and scored on a passed ball.
American opened leads of 10-4 and 14-7 with four-run innings in the third and fourth, but managed only one baserunner the rest of the way.
Both teams totaled 14 hits. Julian Lopez went 3-for-4 with three RBIs for Zia, while A.J. Marez, Dennie and Provencio all had three hits for American.
David Lopez acknowledged his team will have its work cut out against Roosevelt in the finals.
“They’re a really good team,” he said. “They have two really good pitchers. But if we hit the ball, we can beat them.”