Reed Davis stood on second base, put his hands on his hips and started grinning from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat.
Davis had just hit an RBI double that capped a four-run rally to help East Mountain Little League’s Senior League Division All-Stars secure the state championship.
“I was so excited,” the 16-year-old Davis said about his sixth inning hit.
Davis, along with most of his teammates all started playing East Mountain Little League in either Tee Ball or the Rookies Division.
Now, after a long journey to the highest division of Little League, they’re state champs.
“This is a special group of kids,” East Mountain Senior League head coach Brian Bagon said. “They’ve been playing together for years and they’ve stayed together, which you don’t see very much.”
In a back-and-forth battle that saw five lead changes, Jake Weber and Garrett Darner hit home runs, Trace Krueger scored four runs, and East Mountain outlasted Petroglyph 11-8 in the New Mexico Senior League Tournament championship, June 8 at Roadrunner Little League’s complex in Albuquerque.
It was the first-ever Senior League (14-16 year-olds) state championship for East Mountain Little League in its 30-year history.
Petroglyph, from Albuquerque’s Taylor Ranch area, plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a 2-0 lead.
East Mountain responded with five runs in the top of the second.
Krueger and Evan Bagon reached base on Petroglyph errors. With two outs, Davis reached on another error, scoring Krueger and moving Bagon to third. With runners at the corners, Weber hit a fly ball that cleared the top of the fence in left-center field.
As he rounded second base, Weber pointed his index finger toward the sky and yelled, “Let’s GO!”
“Yeah, I was pretty loud,” Weber said. “That got the energy going, big time.”
Darner followed with a moon shot over the left-field fence to give East Mountain a 5-2 lead.
Petroglyph added a run in the bottom of the second, but Evan Bagon poked a base hit up the middle in the top of the third to drive in Krueger and extend East Mountain’s lead to 6-3.
Petroglyph scored two runs in the bottom of the third, and then drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth to knot the score at 6-6.
East Mountain regained the lead in the top of the fifth when Krueger led off the inning by reaching base on another Petroglyph error. Garrett Hitchcock tapped a bunt into no man’s land up the third-base line moving Krueger to second. Krueger scored on Bagon’s single to left field.
Petroglyph struck back, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth to push ahead 8-7.
But East Mountain erupted for four runs in the sixth to seal the victory.
Tommy Morgan got aboard on a base hit, stole second, and went to third on a wild pitch. Caleb Martin reached on an error to drive in Morgan. Krueger and Hitchcock walked to load the bases. Deshawn Griego’s two-out single drove in Martin and Krueger. And Davis capped the spurt when he pulled a bounding ball past Petroglyph’s third baseman to drive in Hitchcock.
“I remember I was really early on it,” Davis said.
Weber came in to pitch the sixth and seventh innings and allowed a couple of batters get on base but kept Petroglyph off the board.
“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Weber said, adding, “My curveball felt better than my fastball.”
In its first game of the Seniors tournament on July 6, East Mountain got past Petroglyph 3-0. East Mountain beat Silver City 10-0 the next day in five innings on the mercy rule.
“I think they competed, they never gave up, even when they fell behind they fought back every time, the confidence that they have is amazing,” coach Bagon said.
With the state title, East Mountain advances to the Senior League Southwest Regional Tournament, July 19-25 in Seguin, Texas.