Clovis American catcher Lorenzo Colmenero tags out Roosevelt County’s Jason Tapiaduring Wednesday’s 10-11 Little League All-Star game at Dickenson Field. American beat Roosevelt County 3-2 in seven innings. (Staff photo: Tony Bullocks)
By Eric Butler: CNJ Correspondent
In a game filled with good pitching and damp field conditions, the pressure was put on the fielders in a 10-to-11 year-old district Little League contest in Clovis on Wednesday night. It was Roosevelt County’s defense that was first to crack in extra innings as Clovis American took a 3-2 victory.
With the win, Clovis American put itself in position to wrap up the district all-stars crown with another victory on Friday. Because the Clovis and Portales teams are the only two in this district tournament, the next game — in Portales — will feature the same opponents again.
“They didn’t give up. They played hard,” said Clovis American coach Ricky Wilson, whose squad fell behind by a 2-0 score in the fourth. “The only problem when it’s wet is that the ball gets heavy. You can hear it smacking the bat — it’s like a dull rod.”
The contest was won by Clovis in the bottom of the seventh. After reliever Reyes Calbert struck out the first batter he faced, Clovis American’s Kole Glover made contact for an opposite-field single to right.
The next hitter, Hayden Hukill, grounded back to Calbert, who wheeled to throw to second in an effort to force out Glover. Though the throw was not far off the bag, it went between two Roosevelt County infielders and into centerfield as Glover moved on to third.
“It was probably just a little miscommunication and a slight error. An error here, an error there can really cost you, but that’s baseball,” Roosevelt County coach Burton Smith said.
That play turned out to be critical as Clovis’ next batter, Drew Cole, then hit a hard grounder to shortstop that skipped past the Roosevelt County fielder as Glover came in to score the winning run.
“We had ’em, 2-0, but you have to give credit to the other team. They stepped up,” Smith said.
All of the runs of the contest were assisted by fielding errors and various other miscues. Roosevelt County, in fact, was unable to garner a hit against Clovis American’s three pitchers.
But, in the top of the fourth, Roosevelt County got its runs after a rally started when River Fine was hit by a pitch from Clovis American’s Lorenzo Colmenero. Three wild pitches later, Fine tallied the first run of the game. Kevin Yager, who drew a walk, also eventually scored on a passed ball for a 2-0 lead.
Clovis bounced right back in the bottom of the fourth as Hukill began a two-run rally with a single up the middle. Hukill was still at third two outs later when Joseph Montano was hit by a Reyes Chavez pitch.
Eventually, with Hukill at third and Montano at second, a grounder to second by Clovis’ David Sweet was misplayed and both runners crossed home.
As the game went into extra innings, both benches were quite aware of what a long game might do to their pitching in Friday night’s game. In Little League play, six innings of pitching — as was the case with Roosevelt County starter Chavez — means that the player has to sit out two days and one game.
Neither side expressed much worry about lack of pitching depth for the next contest.
“I’ve got a bunch of pitchers that can go one inning or more, so I wasn’t worried,” said Wilson of the Clovis side.
“You can only pitch your pitcher six innings, so we had to pull our pitcher. But we can go with (Reyes Calbert) in the next game, because he only went one inning and we have our first baseman (Ryan Schmidt), who’s good also,” Smith offered.