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SANTA FE — After four innings, the White Rock All-Stars appeared to be poised for a big victory in its elimination game Sunday morning.
After five innings, however, things were very much up in the air.
White Rock opened up a commanding 10-run lead after 3-1/2 innings of play and held an 8-run edge going into the bottom of the fifth, but the hot bats of the Silver City All-Stars would wake up late in the state senior softball Little League tournament game at Franklin Miles Park.
Silver City pounded out nine hits in the fifth and sixth innings, sparking two big rallies to get back in what appeared to a be a done deal Sunday morning. In its last at-bat, Silver City scored on a walk and two errors on the same play to take an improbable come-from-behind victory, 15-14.
White Rock’s offense, meanwhile, managed just one run in the final three innings of Sunday’s contest, an unearned run, which, like most of White Rock’s runs, started with a Silver City error.
With its win, Silver City took the state tournament and will now advance to the regional softball Little League tournament, which will be played in Pineville, La., next week.
White Rock, which won the District 1 championship and earned the right to advance to the state tournament late last month, needed to win Sunday morning’s game to force a 1-game state championship playoff, which was scheduled for Sunday afternoon would it have held on for the win in the morning. Silver City held on to beat White Rock in the team’s first meeting Saturday morning, 4-3. Silver City also had to come from behind in that game, scoring runs in the fourth and fifth inning to earn that win.
The loss to Silver City Saturday pushed White Rock into the loser’s bracket, where it topped Albuquerque Isleta 4-2 Saturday to remain alive.
White Rock’s win over Isleta was the only game in the tournament decided by more than one run.
Unfortunately, White Rock never seemed to get its offense going in the tournament. White Rock stranded nine runners on base in Saturday’s game against Silver City and scored three of its four runs on errors against Isleta.
Even Sunday, all but two of White Rock’s runs came as a result of Silver City errors. Silver City committed eight errors in the first four innings, including four errors in the 4-run first inning.
The two teams combined to send 17 hitters to the plate in the first frame. White Rock batted around to open the contest, with Micaela Christensen banging a RBI single, which, combined with a misplay in the outfield, scored two runs.
Christensen, one of the top young hitters in the state, knocked in five runs in the game and nearly ended up with a sixth except Emily Lucero was cut down at home plate in the sixth inning by a bullet relay throw from Silver City second baseman Rachel Altamirano.
Aside from Christensen’s 4-for-5 hitting performance and Lucero’s 3-for-4 performance, however, White Rock managed just four other hits in the contest.
Lucero finished with a double, three RBI and two runs scored.
Silver City’s big bottom of the fifth got going with a triple from Audra Hernandez. With two outs, Silver City had three straight hits, including a two-run double by Gabby Hernandez.
Silver City came right back in the bottom of the sixth, after allowing a White Rock run in the top of the sixth, to tie the score. Again with two outs, Silver City pounded out two hits and drew a walk to push three runs across. Brittani Selders’ triple knocked in a pair of runs including the tying run.
Silver City’s Alyssa Sifuentes, who struggled early in the contest, ended up as the winning pitcher Sunday.