East Mountain’s Minors Division All-Stars’ first round in the 2021 New Mexico District 5 Little League All-Stars 8-9-10 Tournament proved to be quite a challenge.

It was East Mountain’s first 8-10 district tournament since 2019. All District 5 Little League All-Stars tournaments were canceled last year due to Covid-19.

The 8-10 All-Stars double-elimination tournament got underway July 5 at Albuquerque’s Lobo Little League. East Mountain drew a first-round matchup against perennial powerhouse Roadrunner Little League.

East Mountain—the home team by way of a pregame coin flip—got off to a good start, but it did not take long for things to go south.

East Mountain Little League’s Brayden Encinias lofts a pitch during the team’s first-round loss to Roadrunner Little League in the 8-10 All-Stars tournament, July 5. Photo by Ger Demarest.

East Mountain’s starting pitcher Brayden Encinias struck out the first two batters he faced in the top of the first inning. With two outs, it looked as though East Mountain might get out of the inning unscathed.

But Roadrunner mounted a four-run spurt to take a lead it would not relinquish. Roadrunner piled it on in the second inning with a 12-run surge and then added nine more runs in the third for a 25-0 advantage.

East Mountain could not get any runs on the board and the game ended after three innings on the 15-run mercy rule.

“The boys were just flat, they were nervous,” East Mountain head coach Keith Sandy said. “You have kids that had a phenomenal season and they come out here, this is their first All-Stars game, the nerves just got ‘em.”

East Mountain produced its share of opportunities, getting runners aboard in each inning and moving them into scoring position.

But all of East Mountain’s runners were ultimately stranded on base.

“We just couldn’t get ‘em around. I mean, some of them came out swinging, but we just couldn’t get ‘em around,” Sandy said, adding, “It is what it is, Game 1, like I said, a ton of nerves, but it’s a great experience.”

With the loss, East Mountain fell to the consolation bracket. The team was originally scheduled to play its second game on July 7, but the bracket was revised after Atrisco Little League dropped out of the tournament.

East Mountain faced Zia Little League’s All-Stars July 8 after The Independent went to print.