By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
TAOS — Head coach Sammy Villanueva was worried about his kids freezing up at the plate at the 10-and-11 year-old Little League state tournament in Taos. As it turned out — his kids hit the ball just fine, but came up a little short.
Tied after four innings, Albuquerque Mile High’s All-Stars outscored the Roosevelt County boys 4-0 in the fifth to cruise to a 13-11 win in the first round of the double-elimination tournament Saturday morning.
“We just didn’t throw strikes,” Villanueva said. “We beat ourselves.”
For the first four innings, though, it seemed that the two teams were destined to post identical numbers. The score was tied up after each of the first four innings until Mile High’s big fifth inning.
Eli Tapia got the start for Roosevelt County on the mound and pitched into the second inning. Tapia was relieved by Alex Villanueva who pitched through the fifth inning and Sam Roberts closed the game out.
Daniel Hernandez got the party started in the top of the first for Roosevelt County knocking in two runs with a single, followed by an RBI single from Jarrett Faust to give Roosevelt a 3-0 lead.
Mile High, however, put together a couple of hits of their own in their half of the first inning to tie the score at 3-3.
Alex Villanueva capped the second inning with a run-scoring double, and Roosevelt County took a 5-3 lead but it was short lived, as Mile High tied the score once again in the second inning 5-5.
Tapia, Villanueva, Nate Salas and Pete Stone all scored runs in the third inning for Roosevelt County, but Mile High matched it run-for-run, and the score was tied 9-9 after three innings leading to a scoreless fourth.
Roosevelt County was held scoreless once more in the fifth inning, and Mile High used the opportunity to score four runs and take a 13-9 lead.
Roosevelt County’s rally fell two runs short in the top of the sixth inning.
According to Villanueva, only four of Mile High’s runs were earned — the rest were due to walks and errors.
“The kids were a little intimidated by Mile High,” Villanueva said. “Mile High’s always a top tier team. We looked intimidated to me. We looked real tense.”
The loss propels Roosevelt County into the bottom half of the bracket where they will meet Carlsbad American Monday at 2 p.m. Carlsbad lost their first-round game to Deming Saturday afternoon 4-2.