Solid hitting and stout defense helped boost East Mountain Little League’s teams at the New Mexico District 5 All-Star baseball tournaments at Roadrunner Little League’s complex in Albuquerque.
EMLL entered one full team in the Minors Division (8-9-10 year olds), and three players on a combined Juniors Division team (14 year olds).
The Minors Division tournament got underway June 30 and the Juniors Division tournament started July 2.
The Minors team remained undefeated through the first two rounds of its eight-team tournament.
The Juniors combined team, wearing Zia Little League uniforms, used a two-game sweep over its only opponent in the two-team tournament—a combined Roadrunner-Thunderbird team—to clinch the district title.
The Zia combined team consisted of three players from East Mountain—Gabe Case, Connor McCall, and Land Matthies—along with players from Mile High and Zia Little Leagues.
The team clinched the title with a 17-0, opening-round blowout followed by an 11-0 win the next day. Both games were shortened by the mercy rule.
After the first game, the Roadrunner-Thunderbird team launched a protest, accusing the Zia team of having an ineligible player.
The protest was reviewed by the Little League Southwest Regional tournament committee and denied.
East Mountain’s 8-9-10 team had no trouble rolling to a 15-4 mercy-rule shortened victory over Roadrunner in its June 30 opener.
The team outlasted Mile High Little League 7-4 in extra innings in the July 2 second round.
“Against Roadrunner, we were really hitting the ball,” East Mountain 8-9-10 coach Jason Rector said.
Rector said his players struggled with their bats early in the second round against Mile High and the game remained tied 4-4 after the regulation six innings.
In the top of the seventh, three consecutive doubles helped East Mountain plate 3 runs.
In the bottom of the frame, East Mountain’s defense fended off a would-be Mile High rally.
“We were in a good part of our lineup [in the top of the seventh] and then Mile High got bases loaded but we held them,” Rector said.
East Mountain advanced to the tournament semi-final July 6 at 5:30 p.m.