By Raymundo Frasquillo
SAFFORD – Morenci-Clifton and Pinal Mountain, both 2-0, face off in the District 11 Little League All-Stars Tournament on Wednesday (June 28) at 5:30 p.m. at Safford High School’s softball field. Pinal Mountain downed Hayden-Winkelman, 8-2, and Morenci-Clifton run-ruled Duncan, 13-3, in four innings on Monday (June 26).
A pair of elimination games were held Tuesday (June 27), Kearny verses Hayden-Winkelman and Mount Graham verses Duncan with each team being 0-1. The winners meet at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday.
Morenci-Clifton trailed by a run during its initial plate appearance against Duncan as Daylen Johnson stepped to the plate with two outs. He dispatched a one-ball pitch over the centerfield fence to tie the score. The red and black-clad boys never trailed thereafter, adding three runs in the second inning to go ahead for good.
Duncan scored with its lead-off batter, Timothy Baca, reaching first after getting beaned, advancing to second on a wild pitch, third on a passed ball, and scoring on another passed ball. It would be the third inning before Duncan crossed home plate again. Baca reached second base on an error, advanced to third on a passed ball, and scored on an errant throw. Second batter, Gary Najar, drew a walk, advanced to second on a passed ball, stole third, and scored on a delayed double steal with one out.
Ahead 4-3 in the bottom of the third, Morenci-Clifton’s Derek Saenz’ long rightfield blast allowed him to score behind Johnson at second. The team went through the entire batting order in the fourth, adding seven runs, six unearned, with the tenth batter at the plate. Lead-off batter, Tony Roybal, was walked and was singled in by Johnson, then Joseph Seballos walked and Johnson scored on a fielding error, a walked Shaun Hudman scored on a throwing error, a walked Gabriel Hernandez stole home with one out, and a walked Michael Casillas scored on a passed ball with two outs. The game was called on the 10-run rule.
Morenci-Clifton batted .286 (6-21), fielded .824 (14-17), and left three runners on compared to 0-10, .652 (15-23), and five stranded runners for Duncan.
Johnson (home run, 2 RBIs) and Patrick Chavez (double, 2 RBIs) both batted .667 (2-3); Hernandez . 500 (1-2, double) and Saenz .333 (1-3, home run, RBI).
Starting pitcher Saenz struck out four, walked three, beaned one, and left with a 37-pitch count while facing eight batters during 1 2/3 innings. Reliever Johnson struck out four, walked three, and left with a 39-pitch count while facing eight batters during 1 1/3 innings. Closer Hudman struck out one, walked one, and left with a 13-pitch count while facing three batters during one inning.
The rest of the team included Evaristo Berume, Mateo Ciriello, Mateo Palomarez, Emilio Roybal and Jayce Ulibarri.
Jason McEuen, Tony Roybal, and Jose “Pepe” Saenz coach the team.
For Duncan, starting pitcher Brody Waters struck out three, walked three, allowed five hits, and left with a 67-pitch count while facing 20 batters during three innings. Reliever Najar struck out two, walked three, yielded a hit, and left with a 32-pitch count while facing seven batters during 2/3 innings.
The rest of Duncan’s players are Adriano Burrola, Richard Garcia, Benjamin Harris, Isaac Harris, Alonzo Martinez, Diego Montoya, Emiliano Ortega, Lorenzo Picaso, Brandon Price and Pablo Rodriguez.
Duncan’s coaching staff includes Joe Bejarano, Jeff Jones and Armando Rendon.
The championship game is slated for Friday, June 30, at 6:30 p.m. or if needed, Saturday, July 1, at 6:30 p.m.