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Baseball: Red Sox top Yankees 6-2, win Los Alamos County Majors tourney

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By Mike Cote

While there was some doubt as to whether the District 1 Little League Tournament of Champions was even going to happen as of Saturday, Steve Capelli was rooting for one.

“I’d like one more tournament with this team,” said Capelli, manager of the White Rock Red Sox. “I think we can beat everybody in northern New Mexico. That’s how good we are.”

Few in Los Alamos County can argue.

The Red Sox capped off an outstanding County Majors Tournament Saturday, topping the Los Alamos Yankees 6-2 at Byers Field for the 2008 county title.

The Red Sox, who lost just three games all season, used solid pitching and defense to keep the Yankees off the scoreboard until the final inning and earned some timely hits, particularly in the bottom of the fourth to put the contest away.

Jake Downs, the Red Sox starting pitcher, went the distance Saturday in the championship game, giving up just six hits and striking out three.

Downs got plenty of help from his defense Saturday, as well, with some big pick-ups coming from shortstop Wes Skidmore, third baseman Tyler Vananne and first baseman Nick Capelli, who smothered a hot shot and stepped on his bag for the final out of the game.

It was a tough loss for the Yankees, who upset the White Rock Pirates in tournament’s semifinal elimination game to advance to Saturday’s championship game.

The Yankees came back from an early three-run deficit against the big-swinging Pirates Friday to take that contest 9-8. The Pirates had beaten the Yankees in their previous three meetings of the season, including an 11-8 win in the tournament’s first round Tuesday.

“I’m proud of these guys,” Yankee manager Glen Pappas said. “We lost the first game of the tournament but we bounced back to win the next two games we played. Had we won (Saturday), we would’ve had our ace pitching on Monday and we would’ve put a scare in some people.”

Yankee pitcher Todd Zollinger went four innings Saturday and helped to keep his team within striking distance most of the contest before handing the ball to reliever Ryan Pappas. The Red Sox scored once in the first inning and twice in the second inning, but Zollinger pitched his way out of trouble in both innings to limit the damage.

For the game, Zollinger struck out eight Red Sox hitters. With the Red Sox up 3-0 going into the bottom of the third, Zollinger fanned three straight Red Sox hitters, setting up what ended up being the decisive inning of the contest.

The Yankees opened up the top of the fourth with a pair of singles from Matt Frye and Zollinger, but Downs and the defense rose to the challenge. Downs retired the next two batters before Yankee left fielder Greg Ahlers lined a shot right at Red Sox second baseman Jarred George, who speared the ball for the third out.

In the bottom of the fourth, Downs doubled with one out, putting Kyle Cash, who singled to lead off the inning, on third. Following a RBI groundout from Skidmore, Downs scored on an error, then Capelli lined a single into center to score Franklin Archuleta, giving the Red Sox a 6-0 cushion.

For the game, the Red Sox collected eight hits.

“The bats have won us games all season,” Pappas said. “Hitting the ball is what we do best. We’ve pulled out several games because of our bats.”

In the top of the sixth, Frye belted a line drive that cleared the left field fence for a two-run home run, the only two tallies of the game for the Yankees. Frye crushed a line drive Tuesday off a billboard in left-center at Byers for a solo shot.

Frye finished the game going 2-for-3 for the Yankees.

Following the game, Pappas said he thought the combination of a tough late game Friday and the warm conditions Saturday afternoon took a lot out of his club and made it tough to beat a tough squad like the Red Sox.

For the Red Sox, Skidmore was 2-for-3 with two RBI, while Cash was 2-for-3 with a triple in the second inning, scored twice and knocked in a run. Capelli also finished 2-for-3 with a base-knock and scored a run.

“I feel privileged to be out here and be a part of these kids’ lives,” coach Capelli said after the win.