After winning fourth straight District Little League title, Monument 9-10 boys will try for fourth straight state title
Just when Fruita’s 9-10 A Little League baseball team appeared to be back in the game after a disastrous start, Monument responded like a three-time defending District 1 champion.
So, now it has won four district titles in a row, and that means it gets the opportunity to go for its fourth straight state title next week in Kremmling.
After its 10-0 lead dwindled to 10-5, Monument mustered one more big inning and put away Fruita for a 15-5 victory in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule.
Monument coach Brandon Cruz said his team did as he expected when it regained control of the game.
“Our kids just got relaxed and wanted to finish it,” he said.
Winning pitcher Chavis Nourse had a big hand in that. After pitching two scoreless innings to start the game, he surrendered three runs in the third and two in the fourth.
After Fruita executed a double steal to score Conner Thomas, Kyle Farrington singled in a run to make the score 10-5, and Cruz went to his bullpen ace, Paul English, who closed each of Monument’s final three games in the tourney.
English’s entrance led to Nourse sliding over to shortstop, where two batters later he latched onto a line drive and stepped on second base for a rally-killing, inning-ending double play.
Then, in the top of the fifth, Nourse singled in the first of Monument’s five runs that gave it the 10-run cushion it sought, and Kory Christensen capped the outburst with a two-run double.
Then, it was English’s turn again. An infield single and an error put runners on first and second with no outs, but English induced a popout, struck out the next batter, and Caleb Martinez scooped up a grounder behind third base and jumped onto the bag with both feet to end the contest.
Cruz pointed out his team’s win made it a clean sweep by Monument in the four District 1 tournaments in which it had entrants. Monument’s teams combined to go 18-0. Monument Little League’s president, he pointed out, is his dad, Toby Cruz.
Junior Boys championship
In a Junior Boys Little League game the umpires suspended around 12:30 a.m. Friday because of lateness, Grand Mesa later in the day Friday was ruled the winner by Little League officials in Williamsport, Pa.
Grand Mesa officially defeated Three Rivers 17-10 in five innings at Deerfield Park in Rifle, claiming the berth in the state tournament, which begins July 19 in Denver.
“It’s still pretty surreal,” Grand Mesa manager J.T. Mapes said Friday night. “I can’t believe I’m even talking to you. Our first game (of the tourney), we lost 19-3 and walked 17 guys.”
Before the smoked cleared in the six-team, double-elimination tournament, Grand Mesa eliminated all five of the other teams, starting with a 19-3 triumph over Ignacio, then 17-1 over Colorado River Valley, the team that routed Grand Mesa in the opener. The games got a little closer after that: 11-5 over Orchard Mesa, 8-5 over Durango, then 12-6 over Three Rivers, handing Three Rivers its first loss and forcing a second game for the championship.
Grand Mesa took control of the title tilt immediately, scoring 10 runs in the top of the first inning. A six-run fourth inning made it 17-3, and Grand Mesa held on as Three Rivers combined for seven runs in the fourth and fifth.
Michael Estep was the winning pitcher, and Adrian Benson hit two, two-run, bases-loaded singles to lead Grand Mesa’s hitters. Benson fell behind 0-2 and 1-2 in the counts on both hits before taking them to full counts. Meanwhile, No. 7 hitter E.J. Barrera concluded the tournament with a .725 batting average for the seven games.
Singling out players was difficult for Mapes, who said, “I could give you the name of every kid. That’s the kind of effort they gave us.”