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The White Rock Little League 9-10 All-Stars will have to wait an extra day to start state tournament play.
Not that White Rock management is complaining too much.
White Rock, which won the District 1 tournament earlier this week, will get going Sunday with state tournament play. It received one of four byes in the 12-team tournament, which gets going Saturday at Bayard, near Silver City on the western edge of the state.
Sunday’s game will have White Rock facing off against the winner of Saturday’s game between a pair of Albuquerque-area squads. Sunday’s game starts at 12:30 p.m.
To earn a bye in the first round, White Rock won two of three contests over Santa Fe at the district tournament. They were the only two teams representing District 1.
Santa Fe won the opener in the three-game set 13-7, but White Rock pushed 35 runs across the plate in game two, taking that game by 18 runs, and came back from a 7-run hole to win the third game, 11-10.
“They matured a lot in those three days,” White Rock manager Roger Anaya said. “Coming back from an 8-1 deficit showed a lot of poise and a lot of character.”
Makela Jones, the winning pitcher in Monday’s rubber match with Santa Fe, going 3-1/3 innings and striking out eight, is penciled in as the starter for Sunday’s opener.
Anaya said he feels confident in his pitching staff of Jones, Hannah Mojica and Aletta Marciano.
“All three are very capable pitchers for being (9 and 10),” he said. “They all pitch really, really well.”
Mojica earned the win in the second game to keep her team’s chance at a district title alive. Mojica went 3-2/3 innings to get the win.
Having depth at pitching plus having one game less than its Sunday opponent is a bonus for White Rock. Pitchers at the 9-10 level can pitch up to four innings without taking a day rest, which becomes mandatory after four innings of work.
At the plate, White Rock showed good patience, swinging at very few balls outside the strike zone.
Win or lose Sunday, White Rock will play Monday and would play on Tuesday with a win in either of its first two contests. Should White Rock remain alive in the winner’s bracket through Tuesday’s game, it wouldn’t play again until the championship, scheduled for next Saturday.
White Rock made some final preparations in practice this week, working on throwing, blocking balls, baserunning and rundowns.
“We are ready,” Anaya said. “We’re pretty excited.”