Sunset Little League all-star catcher Cooper Pina dives toward the plate, too late to tag Eastdale runner Brady Partin, who scored on a wild pitch by SLL pitcher Jayden Schaeffer (2). Partin, Eastdale’s pitcher, made the score 12-1 here.
BERNALILLO – There’s an old saying in baseball, that “Good things happen when you throw strikes.”
Conversely, bad things can happen when you don’t throw strikes, and such was the case Sunday morning at the Coronado Little League complex, where the Sunset Little League Majors team saw its season end after a 13-2 loss to Eastdale in a District 8 elimination game.
Sunset, which lost to Eastdale 10-3 in the teams’ first meeting and was sent to the losers’ bracket, needed a win Sunday and then another victory over ELL in the “if necessary” game Monday evening to advance to the state tournament.
Last year, SLL won the District 8 title and then – for the first time in its 30-year existence – won the state championship, beating Eastdale along the way, advancing to the regionals in Waco, Texas.
After its earlier loss to Eastdale, Sunset defeated Petroglyph and then, on Saturday morning, handed Rio Rancho’s other Little League team, Cibola, its second loss of the playoffs, 15-3, for the right to meet unbeaten Eastdale.
On Sunday, SLL starting pitcher Dominic Gagne’s first five pitches were out of the strike zone, and he went on to walk three ELL batters in the first inning, and all three scored as Eastdale took a 4-0 lead.
Sunset never recovered, and Eastdale padded its lead with seven runs in the second inning, sending 10 batters to the plate, capitalizing on five hits and two SLL errors off Gagne and Sunset’s first reliever, Jayden Schaeffer.
Sunset pushed across its first run in the second, when Adam Jimenez singled with one out, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a throwing error. Catcher Cooper Pina singled Schaeffer home. One out later, Lucas Baker walked, giving SLL life with two aboard, but Jackson Latter hit into a fielder’s choice to end the frame.
Eastdale scored twice in the third off Schaeffer, and Aiden Koester moved to the mound, walking two but getting the final two outs.
Sunset’s Liam Martinez singled with one down in the bottom of the third, and Eli Waldon and Jimenez drew walks to load the bases. But Jazlyn Quiroz hit into an inning-ending double play and Eastdale headed into the top of the fourth – and final – inning with a comfy 13-1 lead.
Koester allowed a single and a walk to Eastdale in the fourth, but didn’t allow a run.
Needing three runs to extend the game, due to the mercy rule, SLL’s Pina walked to open the inning and one out later, Michael Cappon walked. But Latter fanned for the second out, and Schaeffer flew out to center to end the game