American gains finals

Clovis American first baseman Lucas Walthers throws a Roswell Noon Optimist runner out from his knees in Tuesday’s losers bracket final of the state 9-10 Llittle League tournament at Beachum Field. Photo by Eric Kluth

By Dave Wagner

Clovis American managed only three hits, all in the final inning, but took advantage of 12 walks Tuesday night for a 6-0 victory over Roswell Noon Optimist in the losers bracket finals of the state 9-10 Little League all-star baseball tournament at Beachum Field.
American scored twice on five walks in the second inning, then broke the game open with four more in the top of the sixth to advance to tonight’s 7 p.m. championship round at Dickenson Field against Albuquerque Eastdale North, which handed American its first loss on Tuesday night.
Four pitchers combined on a two-hitter for American, which escaped bases-loaded jams in the fourth and fifth innings. Roswell stranded 10 runners in the game.
“We would’ve lost a 1-0 game,” Noon Optimist manager Marty Cooper said. “You’ve got to be able to score, and we left the bases loaded twice.
“When we left them loaded in the fifth, it kind of broke our backs.”
Roswell’s Brandon Cooper worked a 1-2-3 first, but issued three consecutive walks to start the second. Chris Nunez replaced him with a 1-0 count on Jared Allen, and walked him to force in a run.
After two infield popups, Lucas Walthers drew another run-producing walk.
Carlos Garza allowed one hit in three innings for American. T.J. Serna took over in the fourth, issued two walks around a bunt single and was relieved by Jared Allen.
Allen got a strikeout before Roswell’s Logan Rader was thrown out trying to score on a wild pitch. Another strikeout ended the inning.
In the fifth, Allen walked the bases loaded before Antonio Cordova was summoned from right field, and struck out Dominic Kirk to end the inning.
“Hat’s off to Antonio,” American manager Hector Vasquez said of the diminutive lefty. “He’s small and everybody thinks they can take him for a ride, but he’s aggressive.”
Cordova got through the sixth unscatched, helped when Allen fielded a would-be single in short right and threw out Roswell’s Joseph Healy at first.
Meantime, Nunez settled in and retired nine in a row after issuing two walks to start the third. But he got in trouble in the sixth when Kyle Wornell reached base on catcher’s interference, took second on Allen’s sacrifice and moved to third on a single to right by Cordova — Clovis’ first hit.
With two out, Walthers hit a long RBI double to left. Garza walked and stole second before Serna punched a run-scoring single to center.
Corbin Best drew his fourth walk of the night, and Adrian Loya then walked to force home the final run.
American stranded nine runners, also leaving the bases loaded twice.
“We can’t afford to leave runners on like that against Eastdale,” Vasquez said. “We’re just not producing right now.”