Junior All Stars repeat as state champs
The Carson Valley Little League Junior All Stars repeated as state champions Monday at Douglas High, but defending the title wasn’t easy.
Carson Valley dropped its first game in the tournament on Friday, but then stormed back to win three games in three days to claim the state championship.
The CV juniors defeated Las Vegas Green Valley 9-4 Monday afternoon at the Douglas High varsity diamond to win the championship. Monday’s victory was the second in two days over the Las Vegas squad, which had sent Carson Valley to the losers’ bracket with 4-3 victory on Friday.
Carson Valley won an 11-10 thriller over Winnemucca on Saturday and then defeated Green Valley 8-6 on Sunday to set up Monday’s championship game.
“It was a long road,” Carson Valley manager Bill Johnson said. “We started with weak bats and poor fielding, and each game we got better. Everybody got a chance to contribute when they were asked to and they all did a great job. Everyone kept a good, positive attitude and fought hard.”
With the victory, the Carson Valley 13-year-olds qualified to play in the Division IV Junior Little League Tournament, beginning Sunday in Clovis, N.M. Carson Valley will play the New Mexico state champion Sunday night. The tournament also includes state championship teams from Arizona, Colorado and Utah.
Carson Valley ace Austin Graham picked up the win in Monday’s title game. He allowed two hits in 6 2/3 innings. Ray Gabriel entered the game in the top of the seventh inning with the bases loaded and two outs and quickly worked out of the jam with a grounder to second.
Andrew Andrews was 4-for-4 to lead an 11-hit attack for Carson Valley in the final game.
Graham was 2-for-3 with two mammoth shots off the outfield fence. He doubled off the wall in left-center field in the second inning and then blasted a shot that one-hopped the wall in the alley in left-center.
James Bunting was 2-for-3 and Travis Baker was 2-for-4 with two runs scored in the final.
Green Valley scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning to cut Carson Valley’s lead to 5-4 in the championship game. Johnson’s squad answered with four runs in its half of the sixth, however, to put the game away.
Chad Cooper stole second base after being hit by a pitch to start the final rally. Zach Johnson then executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Cooper to third. Andrews singled to score Cooper and Bunting doubled to push Andrews across the plate. Graham knocked in Bunting with his titanic triple. Baker picked up the final RBI with a groundout that scored Graham.
In the first meeting between the two teams, Green Valley scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to pull out a 4-3 victory as Carson Valley managed only six hits.
In Saturday’s game, Winnemucca scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 10-9 lead. Carson Valley rallied for two runs in its final at-bat for the victory.
Carson Valley opened Sunday’s win over Green Valley with a six-run second inning and then held on for the 8-6 victory.
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