RIO RANCHO – Paradise Hills proved to be an inhospitable host in the opener of the Little League Southwest Regional Junior Baseball Tournament on Friday morning.
Taking advantage of Durango, Colo.’s shaky pitching, Paradise Hills rolled to a 14-1 victory in five innings at Rio Rancho High.
As a sign of how much Colorado struggled, Paradise Hills had just seven hits, all singles.
“It’s tremendous, especially coming in as the host team,” manager Chris Orona said. “We’re the only team that doesn’t have a state title, so it really is a confidence-booster for the kids to let them know they deserve to be here.”
Paradise Hills advanced to a late Friday game, however, and fell 15-5 to Corpus Christi, Texas. As a result, the host team plays a noon elimination game today against Carlsbad., which fell 15-1 to West University of Houston. All three games on the first day of the tournament were five-inning knockouts.
At stake is a berth in the Junior League World Series, which takes place in Taylor, Mich., Aug. 11-17.
Colorado starter Max Hyson actually had a fairly easy first inning, hitting T.J. Montoya with a pitch but otherwise striking out the side.
Things came undone for Hyson and his team in the second. Paradise Hills loaded the bases on two walks sandwiched around a hit batter. Then Hyson hit his 30-pitch limit to be eligible to throw in the next game and was removed. Brandon Trujillo moved from third base to the pitcher’s mound and promptly walked in Jack White with the game’s first run.
From there Trujillo walked in two more runs. After a strikeout, he got Jarrod Potter to hit into a force play at second base, but the fourth run came across. Colorado got a run back in the bottom of the frame on a sacrifice fly by Hyson.
Paradise Hills picked up its first hit in the third inning as Evan Torres reached on an infield single, and advanced on a throwing error by Trevor Candelaria. Justin Orona and Jandreau hit back-to-back singles to make it 5-1. Trevor Garcia walked and Orona ended up scoring on a wild pitch.
Isaiah Martell then singled to right to drive in Jandreau. Another wild pitch scored Garcia to make it 8-1 and Martell would advance to third. Montoya singled to right to drive in Martell. Two more wild pitches moved Montoya to third, and he scored two batters later on Josiah Armijo’s sacrifice fly to give Paradise Hills a 10-1 lead.
Paradise Hills scored two more runs – on a wild pitch and a passed ball – in the fourth and two more in the fifth.
– Chris Jackson
JUNIOR SOFTBALL: Alto Street Park in Santa Fe is the host of the Southwest Regional. New Mexican champion Las Vegas won 12-3 on Friday over Vidalia, La. on Friday and advances to a 10 a.m. Sunday winner’s bracket game. Host Santa Fe fell 11-1 to Lubbock, Texas on Thursday and plays Vidalia today at 10 a.m.
LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL: State champion Las Cruces Fairacres opened with a late game Friday in Waco, Texas, against Malvern, Ark.