Showing an unsinkable spirit, East Mountain’s players were whooping it up in the dugout as they gathered up their gear—despite having just been eliminated from the New Mexico District 5 Little League All-Stars tournament.
East Mountain Little League’s Minors Division team (8-9-10 year olds) got past its first two opponents but stalled in the semifinals, losing two consecutive games and finishing third in the double-elimination, eight-team tournament at Roadrunner Little League’s complex in Albuquerque.
“We did great, our boys came out and put two wins on the board right off the bat, and we finished above five other teams,” East Mountain’s head coach Jason Rector said, adding, “They were all excited about playing All-Stars from day one.”
East Mountain dropped from the winner’s bracket after losing July 6 to Atrisco Valley Little League.
The team was eliminated from the tournament the next day when a rally came up short in an 8-6 loss to Thunderbird Little League.
“They played hard, they fought and fought till the end,” Rector said.
Trailing Thunderbird 1-0 in the top of the third inning, Reno Scribner’s 2-RBI triple helped fuel a 3-run spurt to give East Mountain its only lead of the game.
“We got some momentum off the bats at that point,” Rector said.
But Thunderbird responded with 4 runs in the bottom of the frame and scored another run in the fourth to forge ahead 6-3.
East Mountain left the bases loaded in the fifth inning and Thunderbird added 2 more runs to go up 8-3.
In the sixth, Ty Rector’s 2-RBI double helped East Mountain pull within 2 runs.
But with runners at second and third, Charlie Birdwell hit a fly ball to centerfield where Thunderbird’s outfielder hauled it in to end the game.
“Charlie smoked the ball,” Rector said. “He put the ball in play, you can’t expect him to do more than that—if that ball drops, we’re tied up.”
The day before, East Mountain suffered its first defeat of the tournament, falling 9-0 to the eventual tournament champion, Atrisco Valley.
“That was a tough loss,” Rector said. “It was close for a while, but we made too many mental mistakes, that ultimately was the dagger for us.”
After the tournament, Rector had nothing but praise for his team.
“They’re a great group of boys,” Rector said. “Other than last night’s game [against Atrisco], every game we played was a darn good game and I’m really proud of them—they’re all heart.”