By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
Roosevelt County finished the District 3 12-year-old Little League all-star tournament undefeated, but not without a little last-inning excitement.
Andrew Villanueva pitched a complete game to lead Roosevelt County to a 6-3 win over Quay County in Thursday’s title game of the double-elimination tournament.
With the win, Roosevelt County earned a berth in the Major League state tourney next weekend in Carlsbad.
Roosevelt County held a commanding 6-0 advantage heading into the sixth inning, but Quay first baseman Jakus Martinez tagged a Villanueva pitch over the center-field fence to cut the lead in half.
After Jalen Sewell drew a walk for Quay County and Tyler Nunez reached Villanueva for a double, A.J. McElroy came to the plate with two outs as the potential tying run.
But Villanueva went back to the old reliable for him in this game — the high, hard one — and fanned McElroy to end the contest and give Roosevelt County the championship.
“I just tried to keep my composure and throw strikes. I just had to throw harder,” said Villanueva, who also had three hits in the game.
Roosevelt County scored four runs in the bottom of the first as Villanueva, Lathan Lieb and Brandon Peterson cracked singles in the rally. Villanueva doubled and scored a wild pitch in the fourth inning to make the score 5-0. Until Quay’s big threat in the sixth, Villanueva had relatively little trouble from the mound.
In the third, Quay County’s Angelo Montano doubled to right-center-field, but was gunned down trying to go to third base on a perfect relay thrown by Roosevelt County second baseman Jesus Acosta.
An inning later, Villanueva pitched out of a one-out jam.
The championship game appearance was a rare one for Quay County.
“It doesn’t happen very often. I don’t know how long it’s been, but it’s been awhile,” Quay County coach Michael Esquibel said. “That last inning, I have to give (his players) a lot of credit. We didn’t come out hitting like we normally do, but their pitcher was tough — he shut us down quite a bit.”
In other all-star action Thursday, Roosevelt County edged Clovis 2-1 in the 11-year-old consolation final.