By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
TAOS — The Roosevelt County 10-and-11 year-old Little League All-Stars have extended their summer vacation in Taos by beating Carlsbad American 8-6 Monday afternoon.
In the process, the Roosevelt County boys advanced in the state tournament and avenged their season-ending loss a year ago.
In last year’s 9-and-10 year-old state tournament, Carlsbad American 10-run-ruled Roosevelt County in four innings.
“This was a huge win for us,” Villanueva said. “Last year we were in about the same spot in the tournament, and Carlsbad knocked us out.”
“It feels pretty good,” Roosevelt County pitcher Nate Salas said. “Because we all wanted revenge.”
According to Villanueva, it was important to jump on top of Carlsbad early, and that’s just what they did, scoring five runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a 5-0 lead.
Alex Villanueva started the first inning run-scoring frenzy with an RBI single. Salas followed suit knocking in Villanueva with a triple and Roosevelt County found themselves up 2-0. Later in the first, the bases were loaded for Sam Roberts who hit a shot down the third base line, scoring three.
“That’s all we talked about today. We knew we had to jump on this team because they knew they beat us,” Villanueva said. “That was big for us, when we jumped on top.”
Carlsbad crawled back into the game in the second inning, scoring four runs. But Roosevelt continued to outpace the opposition outscoring Carlsbad 3-2 in the final four innings to win the game 8-6.
“This year, our kids knew that they could do it and that’s all they talked about,” Villanueva said. “Our top three hitters are just doing a great job.”
Salas started for Roosevelt County on the mound and allowed four runs in three innings. Salas was relieved by Daniel Hernandez who allowed just two runs in the top of the fifth inning.
“(Nate) did a real good job,” Villanueva said. “He had a hard time throwing strikes but he did a real good job.”
“I started off pretty good and then in the second inning, I had a bad inning,” Salas said. But I did pretty good from there.”
With the win, Roosevelt County advances to face the Las Vegas All-Stars this afternoon in the elimination bracket.
“We’re working pretty hard,” Salas said.
“To be totally honest with you — these kids are good,” Villanueva said. “If we throw strikes and hit the ball like we have been, we’ve got a chance against anybody.”