Quay County’s Jantzen Darnell pitches the ball to Clovis American’s Adrian Loya during Tuesday’s New Mexico District 3 Little League 13-14 division championship game at Brady Field. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
The Clovis American All-Stars didn’t need a big attack to win the New Mexico District 3 Little League 13-14 division championship Monday night.
American managed only four singles, but benefited from 10 walks and six errors by Quay County to post a 10-4 victory in the “if” game of the tournament at Brady Field.
American will travel to West Mesa in Albuquerque for state competition this weekend.
Quay won the first game of the three-team tournament 16-15 on Friday, but American came back with three consecutive wins and forced a second title game with a 12-7 victory in Tucumcari on Monday night.
“They’re a good team,” Quay manager Jerry Sewell said of American. “They play like a team, too.
“We did good; we’ve got a good group of kids. We just needed to hit a little better.”
Matt Marez pitched five strong innings for American in the finals, allowing no hits until giving up a run in the fifth on a blooper, a walk and two infield knocks. He pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam by getting a pop-up and a strikeout.
Marez walked four and struck out six, then came back to get the final two outs — one on strikes — in the top of the seventh.
“We had good pitching and our fielding was great,” American manager Tommy Serna said. “Matt Marez was putting on a pitching clinic.”
Meantime, Quay starter Jantzen Darnell allowed only three hits over five innings, but walks and errors did his team in.
American took the lead in the bottom of the second when catcher Seth Bailey reached on an error, moved to second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored on Keegan Marsh’s groundout. The Clovis squad then broke it open in the third with five runs on only two hits — including a two-run single by Marez.
Darnell issued three walks in that inning, all of them scoring, and his defense contributed three errors.
T.J. Serna added a sacrifice fly in the fourth, and when the ball was misplayed in right field a second run came home on the play to make it 8-0. Bailey’s RBI single and Marsh’s squeeze bunt completed the scoring in the sixth.
“This is my first time to be coaching at this level with these kids,” Tommy Serna said. “It’s all about having fun, and they did.”
Catcher Josh Sewell led Quay’s five hit attack with a bunt single and a double.