American second baseman Corbin Best sprints out of the box after laying down a bunt during Friday’s District 3 major division game against Roosevelt County at Beachum Field. Photo by Eric Kluth
By Eric Butler
Tall compared to his fellow 11- and 12-year-olds in Friday’s game, Roosevelt County pitcher Ty Terry had a group of Clovis American hitters mostly in check.
But the American All-Stars were able to scratch out a single run in the top of the sixth inning — the last frame under majors division rules — to grab a 3-2 district tournament win at Beachum Field.
The victory puts the American All-Stars into the championship game next Friday, where they may well take on Roosevelt County again. But Roosevelt County will have to win again to get there — first on Tuesday against the winner of Saturday’s contest between Tucumcari and the Zia All-Stars from Clovis.
Clovis American’s Blake Wiley said it took a while to adjust to Terry.
“For one thing, he was coming sidearm. It was hard to hit it because it was coming from a different angle,” Wiley said.
“I got nervous, because I thought we weren’t going to win,” added teammate Jake Burrell.
But Burrell and Wiley combined to send in the winning run in the sixth.
Burrell led off the frame with a single up the middle. After Terry induced a soft liner to short and recorded his 10th strikeout, it was Wiley who hit a high fly to left that fell in for a double to score Burrell.
In the bottom of the sixth, Burrell — pitching for American since the second inning — allowed a walk before getting the side out with no further damage.
Until Roosevelt County’s Iszak Valdez clobbered a fifth-inning solo home run over the center field fence to tie the game at 2-2, all of the runs for both teams were recorded as a result of fielding errors.
Roosevelt County took a 1-0 lead in the third after an errant pickoff attempt. In the fourth, American rebounded for a pair of runs to take a 2-1 lead.
“We scored 20 runs the other day against Tucumcari (Quay County) by being disciplined,” American coach Tony Cordova said. “We were very undisciplined today, swinging at high balls, low balls, balls inside.”
After the narrow loss, Roosevelt County manager Sammy Villanueva said his team would stay focused on the next opponent. But he admitted that a rematch with American would be hard to keep out of his players’ minds.
“We played with a lot of heart and we need to keep it up. We’ll be back, if we just cut back on the errors,” Villanueva said. “Right now, we’re going to focus on Tuesday’s game. If we win that, we’ll worry about American again.”