East Mountain Little League’s Major Division All-Stars (11-12 year olds) accomplished something that hasn’t been done in 9 years—they made it to the N.M. District 5 Majors tournament championship game.
“It’s been amazing,” East Mountain’s head coach Pat Hitchcock said.
East Mountain started strong, stumbled in the second round, but fought its way back through the consolation bracket to reach last night’s tournament title match.
East Mountain ultimately lost the championship to undefeated Roadrunner Little League 32-2, but Hitchcock praised his team for winning four of six games in the tournament.
“These kids stuck together till the end, they did a phenomenal job,” he said.
The eight-team, double-elimination All-Star tournament began last week at Roadrunner’s complex in Albuquerque.
The East Mountain squad advanced to the title match after a come-from-behind 11-8 victory over Altamont Little League in Monday’s semifinal.
Trailing 7-4 in the fourth inning, East Mountain’s Deshawn Torrez-Griego’s home run capped a 3-run rally to tie the game at 7-7 in the fifth. Torrez-Griego also pitched five innings of relief.
Caleb Martin’s 2-RBI home run capped a 4-run sixth inning to ice the game for East Mountain.
“Our team battled back from a deficit, built momentum, and never looked back while the other team collapsed,” Hitchcock said.
Last Saturday Garrett Hitchcock and Cooper Davis hit home runs to help lift East Mountain to a 20-9 thrashing over Zia Little League in the second game of the consolation bracket—the team’s fourth overall game.
“That was a complete team effort from start to finish,” Hitchcock said.
East Mountain began the tournament on July 5 with an 18-7 win over Atrisco Valley but fell into the consolation bracket by losing the next day to Altamont, 16-8.
Hitchcock said East Mountain stranded 14 runners on base and surrendered 9 runs to Altamont in the fifth inning.
“We’re a better team than that,” Hitchcock said.
East Mountain rebounded from the Altamont loss with a 10-3 win over Mile High last Thursday.
“The game was even until Mile High’s pitcher reached his limit 85 pitches [the threshold for 12 year olds], then we made our attack,” Hitchcock said.
The game was tainted by two of Mile High’s coaches and one of its fans getting ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“It was very embarrassing, but our kids stayed focused while [Mile High] got out of hand.”
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.