By Dave Wagner
CLOVIS — The Roosevelt County All-Stars rode strong pitching and just enough hitting Saturday night to a 5-3 win over Clovis American in the championship game of the District 3 major bracket Little League tournament at Beachum Field.
Third baseman Chet Chenault drove in three runs with a first-inning single and a two-out, two-run homer left-center in the bottom of the fifth, staking the Portales-based squad to a 5-1 lead.
Ty Terry earned the pitching victory on a six-hitter, striking out 12. It turned out he needed Chenault’s fifth-inning blast when American’s Matthew Vasquez smacked a two-out, two-run homer to right-center in the top of the sixth.
Roosevelt forced a second championship game in the double-elimination tournament on Friday night, shutting out American on its home field 3-0 behind a two-hitter by Chenault. American won an earlier meeing in the tournament 3-2.
“This group of kids has worked so hard,” Roosevelt coach Sammy Villaneuva said. “This same American team has beating these kids since they were nine years old, so we finally got over the hump.”
American also had strong pitching in the two games, but fielding miscues proved to be costly.
Jake Burrell allowed five hits in Saturday’s contest, but three came in the first when Roosevelt staked a 2-0 lead.
Andrew Villaneuva led off with a double, took third when a fly ball by Iszak Valdez landed fair inside the left field line for a double and scored on a passed ball. Chenault then singled home Valdez.
American halved the deficit in the second on a walk to Matt Southard, a single by Vasquez and an RBI double by Miguel Vega. But Burrell loaded the bases with two hit batsman and a walk in the third, and a run scored on a passed ball.
“They had to beat us,” American manager Tony Cordova said. “They had to beat us; we didn’t lay down. We battled to the end. I’m proud of the guys.”
Vasquez, who had both hits off Chenault on Friday after not starting the game, went 5-for-5 for the weekend. Batting seventh on Saturday, he singled sharply in each of his first two at-bats.
“Matthew came through like he was supposed to,” Cordova said.
Chenault allowed only three baserunners in Friday’s win, striking out 11. Losing pitcher Seth Bailey got 15 of Roosevelt’s 18 outs on strikeouts, but gave up two runs on no hits and two American errors in the third.
Roosevelt added an insurance run in the fourth when Lathan Lieb led off with a single and came around on a passed ball, a wild pitch and a throwing error.
Roosevelt County advances to state competition, scheduled to begin next weekend in Albuquerque.