|Verde Valley claims district championship|
|Written by Brian Bergner Jr.|
|Thursday, 07 July 2011 12:18|
The Verde Valley All-Stars baseball team [ages 10 to 11] claimed the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament championship Thursday, June 30.
Verde Valley would get its rival in the Camp Verde All-Stars on Friday in the title game, a rematch from the first-round game June 27 which Verde Valley won, 11-1.
Verde Valley defeated the Prescott Valley All-Stars in the tournament semifinals June 28, 16-6, which earned the team a spot in the finals. Verde Valley outscored its opponents 37-13 in three tournament games.
Up 6-5 heading into the top of the sixth inning, Verde Valley tallied four runs on five base hits to put things out of reach for Camp Verde.
“I actually said to the boys, ‘I want at least three runs in this inning. We need to get a big lead.’ For whatever reason, it worked, and we were able to win the championship,” Verde Valley skipper Pete Kelly said.
It is the second District 10 title for Kelly, who coached the Verde Valley Minors All-Stars baseball team [ages 9 to 10] to a district title in 2010.
Starting pitcher Jose Pacheco, 11, toed the mound for Verde Valley on Thursday looking to shut down the cross-valley rival at Butler Park in Camp Verde.
Pacheco was brilliant against Camp Verde in game one, and wasn’t far off in the title game against the same lineup.
Pacheco pitched a complete game, going six innings while allowing six runs, four of which were unearned in the 10-6 victory.
“He started against Camp Verde in our first game, so I figured he’d do a good job against them again this time around,” Kelly said.
Pacheco held Camp Verde at bay for several innings, but it was the Verde Valley offensive attack in the sixth which put it away for the boys in red.
Center fielder Matt Bachler, 11, had a big hit to get things going for Verde Valley in the sixth, abd 11-year-old Gus Henley had a clutch three-run double in the inning to put Verde Valley up 10-5.
“I thought the kids performed well. I was a bit disappointed in the errors in that last game, but it was a good team effort,” said Kelly, whose team went 3-0 in the district tournament.
When asked if he expected to win the tournament, Kelly was as modest as possible in saying there were some good teams in the tournament, but he was confident the Verde Valley boys would get it done.
“You never know what’s going to happen in the 11’s tournament. Some leagues pull up all the 11-year-old kids to the 12’s team, and some keep them down,” Kelly said.
Verde Valley will take some time off before hitting the practice field once again in preparation for the Arizona Little League State Championships, scheduled to begin in Yuma on Monday, July 18.