After more than four hours, more than 200 pitches, 12 innings and being down to their last strike three times, a hit batter put Pahrump into the Little League Juniors District 4 championship.
James Metscher was plunked in the bottom of the 12th inning to force in the winning run and give the P-Town Little League Junior All-Stars a 9-8 win over Summerlin North on Saturday at Mountain Ridge Park in Las Vegas.
“I’ve never been a part of a game like that,” Pahrump manager Drew Middleton said. “It was pretty crazy. There’s not a lot of words I can use for it. It was absolutely insane.
“Three times we were down to our last strike and came through. Then we get the bases loaded and win the game with a hit-by-pitch. After a game like that, we seriously won it with a hit-by-pitch.”
Even a day later, the tone was one of disbelief. But the win was a dramatic shot in the arm for a Little League program that went 1-6 in the other divisions of District 4.
Despite the eight runs allowed, Middleton had high praise for his pitchers.
“Zach Cuellar started, and he had a rough first — 32 pitches, two runs,” Middleton said. “After that, he settled down and threw well the next four innings. Jay Amaya threw the sixth and seventh innings and made an absolutely amazing play on the mound, made a diving stop and turned it into a double play.
“In the eighth I brought in Scotti Hirschi, and he threw the rest of the game. Scott for us was the player of the game. He gives us five solid innings and keeps us in the game. If he doesn’t do that, it’s going to be tough for us to win that game.”
Conversely, the offense, despite scoring nine runs, was a source of some frustration.
“We left 22 men on base,” Middleton said. “Out of the 22 we left on base, 17 were in scoring position. That was the story of the game. We had runners on and in scoring position all game. It was just a matter of getting that one hit. It felt like we were the better team all night, but we just weren’t getting the big hit.”
The trend started early, as Pahrump had runners on second and third in the first inning, then struck out three times. A bases-loaded, nobody-out situation in the third did not result in any scoring.
But with the game on the line, Pahrump batters found a way to get that big hit that had eluded them so often earlier in the game. In the eighth, Louis Sposato delivered a two-out RBI single. Zach Cuellar did the same thing in the ninth.
“Zach Cuellar was our MVP offensively,” Middleton said. “The kid went 4-for-5 with two walks and scored three runs.”
While Middleton used several pitchers over 12 innings, Dalton Norland was behind the plate the entire game.
“Catching 12 innings of four-and-a-half hours of intense baseball is tough, and the kid is always a wall back there,” Middleton said. “He’s always a kid you can count on.”
The bizarre path to victory, which included drawing 14 walks to go along with striking out 17 times, puts Pahrump one win away from a district championship. Either Mountain Ridge or Summerlin North will stand in the way.
Quick exit for 12-year-olds
Meanwhile, Pahrump’s Little League All-Stars went two-and-out at Mesa Park in Las Vegas, losing 15-5 to Lone Mountain on Saturday and 12-0 to Cheyenne on Monday.
Considering the 27 runs allowed, the pitching wasn’t that bad. Defensively, Pahrump had two tough games, with multiple errors in both games and numerous mental mistakes.
There were bright spots Saturday. Pahrump opened the game well, with Talan Wall leading off with a single and Justin Ybarra following with a double. Both would score. Hayden Winans belted a line-drive home run in the second that tied the game at 3-3.
“Our brightest spot was Hayden,” manager Jason Sandoval said. “That home run actually put a smile on his face, too. Other than that, we were hitting the ball sporadically, not consistently like we need to do.”
Pahrump scored single runs in the fourth and fifth, as Ricky Rayas scored one and drove in the other. Winans drove in the first run, and Ybarra scored the second. It was too little, too late, but it was evidence nobody was going to give up.
But Monday was all Cheyenne as Pahrump had trouble getting out of its own way. Defensively, the errors and mental mistakes continue to plague the team, although Rayas did hang tough and pitched scoreless third and fourth innings with Pahrump trailing 5-0.
The play of the game for Pahrump came on Cheyenne’s final outs, as Wall made a diving catch on a ball near second and lunged to the base to double up a Cheyenne runner.
The offensive highlight also came in the sixth inning, as Pahrump got its first clean hit on Daniel Meza’s one-out double to left. That marked the first time all game that Pahrump managed to get the ball out of the infield.
Before that, the only players to reach base were Fidel Betancourt, who hustled down the line and reached when a throw from shortstop was dropped by Cheyenne’s first baseman; Austin Sandoval, who was hit by a pitch immediately following Betancourt; and Rayas, who reached on a bobbled ball at shortstop.
“There’s no quit,” Sandoval said. “They went down swinging, and that’s all we ask of them.”
Contact Sports Editor Tom Rysinski at firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter:@pvtimes
Pahrump Junior All-Stars Roster
13-year-olds: Leo Finkler, Scott Hirschi, James Metscher.
14-year-olds: Jay Amaya, Dominic Barbier, Chris Briscoe, Talan Brown, Zachary Cuellar, Dylan Keller, Dalton Norland, Mason Prunchak, Louis Sposato.
Manager: Drew Middleton. Coaches: Kyle Crawl, Tom Metscher.