Yucca Majors run cut short by Westgate

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Knocked down early in the District 9 Little League Tournament, the Yucca Little League Major All-Stars picked themselves up and nearly made their way to the championship game before being sent out of the double-elimination tournament by Westgate Little League, the very team that knocked them out of the winner’s bracket.

“I think the players were physically tired (but) Westgates a tough team,” said Yucca manager Geno Moya. “But we’ve taken this tournament deeper than we’ve ever been. So that’s something.”

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: THE YUCCA MAJOR ALL-STARS players and coaches gather following their lost to Westgate in consolation bracket championship of the District 9 Little League tournament on Tuesday, July 8.

Between their 9-0 opening day loss to Westgate and their 10-0 elimination on Tuesday, July 8, Yucca played a pair of epic games against Valencia County rivals from Belen and Enchantment Little League in a pair of very competitive games.

Sunday, Yucca took a 7-1 lead in the first two innings only to see Belen battle back to cut the lead to 8-7 in the top of the sixth inning and place runners on the corners before Yucca got the final out to end the game.

“Those two wins, we capitalized on the other team’s mistakes and hit the ball well,” Moya said. “I’ve never coached a team with 12 pitchers on that . We were able to throw in pitchers so the other team couldn’t tee off on anyone. It made a difference.”

On Monday night, Yucca again took a large early lead, going up 7-2 on Enchantment. But Enchantment made things interesting in the top of the sixth, when Marcus Perea smashed a three-run home run over the left field fence to cut the Yucca lead to 13-10.

Ultimately Yucaa got out of the inning with a force out at first base that also ended the game.

“Any loss is tough, but our kids came back and never gave up,” said Enchantment manager Anthony Perea. “They did the same thing against South Valley.”

Enchantment’s first game, against eventual champions South Valley on Saturday, July 5, was a barn burner as well, with South Valley taking an early lead then fighting off a late Enchantment rally to win 6-5.

“We had to battle back up,” Perea said. “When you have to come from behind, it’s tough.”

Belen met up with Yucca in the first consolation bracket game Sunday, July 6, after falling 11-0 to South Valley on Thursday, July 3.

Manager Vicente Rodriguez said his team showed a lot of spunk in both games at the tournament.

“We started slow but then they started to show they know how to play,” he said. “The slow starts hurt us, but they came back and showed what they can do.”