By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
The Roosevelt County 10-11 year old All-Stars are headed to the New Mexico state championship tournament in Taos later this month after beating the Clovis Zia All-Stars 15-0 in four innings in the District 3 championship game Tuesday night at Portales’ Rotary Park.
“Today we hit the ball well,” Roosevelt County head coach Sammy Villanueva said. “We knew that we needed to hit the ball to get ready for state. Zia came out and fought us hard but these kids are unbelievable.”
Roosevelt County leadoff hitter Eli Tapia set the tone from the second pitch of the game, sending a shot over the fence in centerfield to give the home team a fast 1-0 lead, before Eli’s teammates took a 10-0 lead after the first inning.
“That set the tone for us,” Villanueva said. “We didn’t hit the ball against these guys last time.”
After Tapia’s leadoff home run, Isaiah Alvarado, Nate Salas and Sam Roberts all brought in runs in the first inning. Roberts’ shot was into shallow centerfield and brought in two runs. Roosevelt County scored their other five first inning runs on walks and throwing errors.
Pitching wasn’t a problem for the home team either, as a trio of Roosevelt County hurlers no-hit Zia allowing just one baserunner.
Salas started the game for Roosevelt County and pitched two innings, before giving way to Daniel Hernandez and Anthony Villanueva closed out the no-hitter in the top of the fourth.
“They’ve got some strong pitchers,” Zia head coach René Mendoza said. “We tried our best and we gave it all but we played a real good team.”
“The whole group — the kids, the parents, everybody around these kids — everything is positive,” Villanueva said. “There’s nothing negative with these guys. They can’t fail, even if they lose because they have fun.”
The Roosevelt County All-Stars advance to the double-elimination state tournament in Taos which begins July 21.
“We’re going to go and we’re going to compete at state,” Villanueva said. “I feel like we’ve got a real good shot at state this year.”