Freedom New Mexico: Karl Terry American’s Rafael Maldonado takes a cut during first-round action of the 9-10 District 3 Little League tournament Monday in Portales.
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
The Zia All-Stars rallied late, scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth Monday night to edge Quay County 6-3 in the opening round of the District 3 Little League baseball tournament at Beachum Field.
Zia advances to a 7 p.m. winners bracket final game at Beachum against Roosevelt County, a 7-0 winner over American on Monday in Portales.
Keaton Greenwalt’s grounder drove in Boone Roberts with the go-ahead run for Zia, snapping a 3-3 tie. Eli Cordova and Daulton Hatley later scored on wild pitches.
Quay jumped on top in the first on a two-out, two-run double to right-center by Daniel Lopez, and went ahead 3-1 in the second on Gabriel Molinas’ double, a single by Michael Prieto and a sacrifice fly by Nathaniel Lopez.
Quay outhit Zia 5-4, but was held off the scoreboard after the second. Three of Quay’s hits were doubles, including two by Daniel Lopez.
“We were a little nervous; we have a lot of young guys,” Quay manager Nathaniel Lopez said. “Hopefully, we can come back Wednesday (against American at Dickenson Field) and take one home.”
Gabriel Montoya pitched four innings for Zia, with Cordova and Greenwalt combining to get the final six outs.
“It was a good game,” said interim Zia manager Mike Tipton, filling in for the first two rounds with manager Rene Mendoza away due to surgery for his daughter. “Hopefully, the next game we won’t be as nervous.
“We expected to have a little more offense, but we had some first-game jitters.”