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A trio of pitchers for the White Rock Red Sox combined to allow just one run through the final five innings to put their team into the Los Alamos County Little League Majors Tournament final.
Starting pitcher Franklin Archuleta and relief pitchers Tyler Van Anne and Jarred George held down a potent White Rock Pirates’ lineup for the balance of the game, aided by some solid defense, to win Thursday’s semifinal 7-3 at Byers Field.
With the win, the Red Sox will await tonight’s winner between the Pirates and the Los Alamos Yankees for two cracks at winning the county tournament.
Archuleta allowed just two hits through four innings of work Thursday, giving up just two unearned runs in the first inning. Van Anne gave up just one earned run in the fifth, allowing just one hit in his two innings.
Tuesday’s game, as were the teams’ two previous games during the regular season, was close most of the way until the Red Sox rallied for two runs in the top of the sixth to pick up some breathing room.
In the sixth, Archuleta led off with a triple, then scored on a RBI groundout by Nick Capelli. The next batter, Clint Adams, smacked a solo home run to straightaway center field, putting the Red Sox up by four.
The Red Sox looked like they might put the game away early Thursday, pushing three runs across in the top of the first.
Meanwhile, in the bottom of the first, Archuleta looked like he’d be able to work out of a jam.
After the first two Pirate batters reached base on a walk and an error, Archuleta got two quick outs, another error brought Connor Mang and Brandon Hodges home to make the score 3-2.
The Red Sox got back-to-back doubles from Adams and George to open the third inning, George’s double plating Adams. George would come around on a RBI single by Jake Downs to push the Red Sox’ advantage to 5-2.
After being blanked in innings two through four, the Pirates made some noise in the bottom of the fifth, picking up a pair of one-out walks. The next batter, Jared Mang, hit a long sacrifice fly to left field to drive in Connor Mang.
The Red Sox’ pitching was helped immensely by some big plays from their middle infield of Downs and Wes Skidmore, who between them came up with four big outs in critical situations to keep the Pirates off the scoreboard.
Downs turned in the defensive play of the game in the sixth, smothering a ground ball deep in the hole from Pirate catcher Zealand Walterscheid and nipping Walterscheid at first base by half a step.
Tuesday’s loss was the first of the double-elimination tournament for the Pirates, who will face a team they put into the loser’s bracket Tuesday. The Pirates scored six runs in the fifth inning against the Yankees to win 11-8.
In that game, Jared Mang blasted a two-run homer to start the big fifth inning for the Pirates.
The winner of tonight’s game will face the Red Sox Saturday at 1 p.m. in White Rock. Should the Red Sox lose Saturday, they will have one more game on Monday to try to secure the county championship.