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With rains falling on and off Saturday, the White Rock Tigers wanted to score as many runs as possible early.
And with some heads-up baserunning and timely hitting in the first and third innings, the Tigers were able to do just that.
The White Rock Tigers, the top-seeded team in the Los Alamos County Majors Little League Tournament, scored three runs in the top of the first and two more in the top of the third to knock off the Los Alamos Cubs 8-3 at Byers Field.
With the win in Saturday morning’s contest, the Tigers, who lost just one game during the regular season, secured a place in the tournament finals. They will face the winner of Monday’s game in the county final.
The Tigers could close out the tournament championship with a win Tuesday. A loss will force a one-game playoff for the county Majors title Wednesday night. Both Tuesday’s game and Wednesday’s game - if necessary - would be played in White Rock.
Saturday, Tiger clean-up hitter Jared Mang came just a double short of hitting for the cycle, while younger brother Connor Mang had a home run and a pair of doubles and scored three runs.
Jared Mang, who finished the regular season with a whopping total of 16 home runs, hit a line drive shot out in left-center in his first at-bat of the game. His two-run shot gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead after just half an inning.
But the Cubs, the second seed in the county tournament, wasn’t going anywhere. The Cubs scored twice in the bottom of the inning with shortstop William Steinkamp driving in teammates Danny Finn and Colin Maddox with a base hit.
The score remained close throughout the bulk of the contest until the Tigers scored twice more in the top of the sixth, amid the heaviest rains of the morning, to put the contest away.
Pitchers Finn and Jeremy Goettee both had solid outings. Finn bounced back from his rough first inning to strike out five batters in the next two innings.
Goettee, meanwhile, set the Cubs down in order in the second and fourth innings to pick up the victory on the hill.
Tiger coach Jeff Walterscheid, filling in for manager Mick Matuszak who was out of town Saturday, said after the game he was impressed with the pitchers in Saturday’s contest.
“Both teams played great ball,” he said. “With the conditions, it was really tough for the pitchers...Jeremy did a great job stepping into these conditions. Nobody wants to stand out there and get rained on.”
The rain got bad enough in the late innings that the game had to be stopped twice to throw dry sand on the pitching mound and around the bases.
Connor Mang’s home run to left-center with two outs in the fourth gave the Tigers a 6-2 cushion at the time.
The Cubs, however, threatened in their next to last at-bat, loading the bases with none out in the fifth. But Connor Mang, who came on in relief of Goettee after Maddox singled to start the inning, struck out two batters and blocked the plate to tag out Maddox trying to score on a wild pitch.
The Mang brothers combined to go 6-for-6 in the contest, five of those hits going for extra bases. They scored five runs and drove in four runs.
For the Cubs, Finn went 2-4 with two runs scored, while Maddox and Steinkamp were both 1-for-3. Maddox scored the other Cubs’ run.
The Cubs beat the Los Alamos Yankees 8-5 Tuesday to advance to Saturday’s game, while the Tigers knocked off the White Rock Indians 11-1 in five innings Wednesday.