American takes 9-10 tournament

Freedom Newspapers: Mickey Winfield Zia pitcher Keaton Greenwalt delivers to the plate during the second inning of Friday’s District 3 Little League 9-10 year old championship game against American at Dickenson Field.

By Mickey Winfield: Freedom Newspapers

The Clovis American All-Stars shook off a 7-6 loss to Zia Thursday, returning the favor on Friday night with a 4-2 victory at Dickenson Field in the if-necessary game of the District 3 Little League 9-10 tournament to earn a berth in the state tournament in Roswell later this month.

“We hit the ball well,” American manager Eloy Flores said. “They were patient at the plate. They took the pitchers to a lot of full counts.”

With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, American took advantage of two Zia errors for the winning margin.

“We didn’t hit well, but we played our hearts out,” Zia manager Drooper Greenwalt said. “They gave me everything they had and we just came up two runs short.”

American pitcher Sam Conlee belted a leadoff triple to center in the fifth, then scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball. Later in the inning, second baseman Kurt Kelley scored on a Zia wild pitch for an insurance run.

“We let the ball get by the catcher, and it’s hard with a deep backstop like this, you can’t throw anybody out coming home like that,” Greenwalt said.

Zia began the scoring in the top of the first as Landon Williams scored from third on a wild pitch.

American pulled even in the bottom of the third when Kelley singled to shallow center to drive in Conlee. A few batters, American went in front 2-1 when the Zia catcher overthrew the pitcher and Kelley scored from third base.

Zia tied the score in the top of the fifth inning as Williams scored on a fielder’s choice.

Both starting pitchers, Conlee and Zia’s Keaton Greenwal, worked into the fifth inning.

The state tournament begins July 20.

“If we continue to play ball the way we are playing, we should do well,” Flores said.