After three wild games that ended in a District 4 championship, it should come as no surprise that there were more twists and turns awaiting the P-Town Junior Little League All-Stars at the state tournament in Carson City.
But this time, there wasn’t quite enough magic left in the bats.
P-Town followed up an 8-7 loss to Boulder City in the tournament opener Thursday with a 12-11 defeat against Walker River of Yerington on Friday to be the first team eliminated from the double-elimination event.
“What kills me the most about what we just experienced is we were definitely better, talent-wise, than both teams that we played,” P-Town manager Drew Middleton said. “We just couldn’t get out of our own way.”
Although both games were one-run losses, they were very different affairs. In the opener, Boulder City jumped out to a 6-0 lead. Pahrump scored three in the fourth and four in the sixth to take a 7-6 lead in the seventh, then gave up two to fall behind.
Typically, P-Town didn’t go down easily. Even after the potential tying run was thrown out at home in the bottom of the seventh, Pahrump pushed another potential tying run to third base before Boulder City finally extinguished the rally.
“Out of the eight runs, two were earned, and the only two earned runs were in the fourth on a double,” Middleton explained. “Outside of that, it was just errors and miscommunication. Boulder City tried to run into three or four different outs, and we just couldn’t execute.”
P-Town wasted a monster game from first baseman Louis Sposato, who went 4-for-4 with three doubles, two RBIs, two runs and three stolen bases.
Friday night’s loss was even more frustrating. This time, it was P-Town taking a big lead, riding a 10-2 advantage into the fifth inning against Walker River.
“Leo Finkler started and cruised through the first four innings, got out of a couple of jams with just the two runs,” Middleton said. “Then his pitch count got up and he got a little bit wild.”
It didn’t get any better after Finkler exited, and Walker River exploded for nine runs in the inning. This time, Middleton said, it was not P-Town mistakes that did the damage.
“We weren’t shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said. “In that game they were just hitting the baseball where we weren’t. They had some guys who can hit, and there are games where hitting is contagious. They were putting the bat on the ball and making good contact.”
But once again, the Pahrump players battled back and tied the game in the bottom of the sixth. But, just like the night before, they gave it back in the seventh, with the go-ahead run scoring on an error.
P-Town rallied again, putting the potential tying run on third and the potential winning run on second, but the inning ended on the 15th strikeout of the night, something that had plagued P-Town during most of the district tournament.
Jay Amaya was the hitting star of the second game, hitting three singles and a double, scoring four times, stealing five bases and driving in three runs. He also played third base, center field, left field and shortstop during the contest. James Metscher went 2-for-2 with a walk, scored twice and drove in two runs. P-Town stole 14 bases in the game.
“Losing to Boulder City, I knew that would be a battle,” Middleton said. “I thought we matched them talent for talent. I could live with it because it was a hard-fought game. But to be up 10-2 and losing it the way we did, that was tough.”
It made for a long ride back from Carson City, but Middleton took home a season’s worth of memories in just a couple of tournaments.
“The entire experience was phenomenal,” he said. “What we went though to get to this point, and even at states, we battled. That’s why we were where we were. We battle. Even when we gave up the lead to Walker River, we battled. That’s what made this team so special.
“To realize that we deserved to be there and show that we competed — and I honestly thought we were better than both teams — they proved they belong at this level. And I think that’s going to help in the future. It’s definitely a confidence-booster. It’s a huge deal to play in the state tournament as middle schoolers, because now when they get there in high school the shock of it will be out of the way.”
Middleton gave credit to the parents, noting that every player had at least one parent make the trip to Carson City for the tournament. It was just another part of what made this all-star team special.
“I love these kids,” he said. “The way they showed up to practice every day. They’re resilient. They never gave up. It’s one of the best groups I’ve ever been around. They were a lot of fun to coach.
“My team never made things boring. We found ways to make things exciting. We never made it easy, but we were very entertaining to watch.”
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