|Written by Brian Bergner|
|Wednesday, 23 July 2008 13:53|
When Verde Valley 11-12 All-Star outfielder Marshall Shill stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning — with the bases loaded, only one out and the score tied at 7-7 — he couldn’t believe he was getting this chance.
“I can’t believe they walked Ulysses [Islava] to get to me. Not a good move on their part,” Shill said.
Verde Valley entered the bottom of the sixth, trailing 7-6 before shortstop Ian Kraft singled and relief pitcher Austin Zwart singled to put runners on first and second with nobody out.
Second baseman Easton Bright stepped to the plate and promptly singled to right field, scoring the tying run by Kraft and making it a 7-7 game.
If only they knew who they were pitching to next.
Shill stepped to the plate and wasted no time, roping a single over a sprawling left fielder’s head to score Zwart and end it in thrilling fashion, 8-7.
“It was good for us to play under some adversity, because most of this tournament we haven’t had to,” Verde Valley skipper Ron Bright said.
Coming into the game against Mesa Southern on Monday, July 21, Verde Valley had outscored their opponents 44-7 for an impressive 3-1 record in pool play at the Arizona Little League All-Stars State Tournament hosted by the Continental Little League in Flagstaff.
To begin the game against Mesa Southern, starting pitcher Tyler Herndon struggled out of the gate giving up three runs in the top of the first inning.
Verde Valley took a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the second inning after Kraft scored on a Zwart single to give him four runs batted in on the day.
In the top of the fifth inning, Herndon’s emotions continued to take over, especially after being hit twice by pitches at home plate.
Herndon allowed a towering home run to right field and a single to left before Bright came out of the dugout with the hook and replaced him with Zwart.
Verde Valley couldn’t afford to be down any more then they already were, at 7-5.
“Sometimes emotions play a part in this game, but Tyler [Herndon] is one of the guys that got us here, and he’s done a great job for us,” Bright said.
“If that ball drops, they score a couple runs and we’re down three, maybe four runs. Instead, we were down only two,” Bright said.
That’s all Verde Valley needed to get them going. The rally monkey hats were on and the bats came alive in the two remaining innings to score three runs and win the game, 8-7.
Zwart had a heck of a game, pitching two scoreless innings, not allowing a hit and striking out two. At the plate, he was 3-4, with a home run and four runs batted in.
Next up for Verde Valley will be the High Desert All-Star team on Thursday, July 24. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.
If Verde Valley can win, they would punch their ticket to the semi-finals with a 5-1 record and claim the No. 2 seed.
Verde Valley would be No. 2 only if Arrowhead [who handed Verde Valley their only loss] goes undefeated.
Game one of the semi-finals begins on Friday, July 25, at 4 p.m. The second game is at 7 p.m., and the championship is on Saturday, July 26, at 1 p.m.
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