PNT Staff Report
DEMING — According to Roosevelt County All-Stars coach Sammy Villanueva, one phone call launched his team toward an 18-2 first-round win over Raton on Saturday in the state 10-11 Little League tournament.
On Thursday, the evening before the team left for the tournament, All-Star team member Daniel Sanchez was involved in a motorcycle accident that sent him on a helicopter to a Lubbock hospital with a variety of injuries.
The coach said his team had been pretty down in the dumps because Daniel hadn’t been able to talk with anyone and the players were worried for their buddy.
On Saturday, before the game, Daniel called and talked to the whole team on speaker phone. The coach said it was just the lift they needed.
“Whenever they heard Daniel come over that phone, they just cheered up immediately,” Sammy Villanueva said.
The brackets were redrawn after one team dropped and Roosevelt County drew the District 4 winner instead of District 6 from Albuquerque. Sammy Villanueva said his team played a good game against a solid opponent, however.
Roosevelt started quickly as leadoff hitter Alex Villanueva bounced one off the top rail of the fence for a ground-rule double.
“They just seemed to roll after that happened,” Sammy Villanueva said. “Our top five just lit it up.”
Roosevelt scored three runs in each of the first two innings, then erupted for four in the third and eight in the fourth to finish Raton off early.
The coach credited Payton Casey, Darren Bonem and Matt Martinez with big nights at the plate, even though no one homered.
Alex Villanueva started for Roosevelt and held Raton to just one run in just under three innings. Casey finished the third. Anthony Villanueva took the hill in relief for the fourth stanza and gave up just one run.
“These kids were on a mission and they weren’t going to lose it,” Sammy Villanueva said. “The way these boys spirits are now we can play with anybody down here.”
Roosevelt County will face Carlsbad at 7 p.m. today. Carlsbad beat Albuquerque Zia 6-2 on Saturday.
The double-elimination tournament continues through Friday in Deming.
Clovis’ three state tournament entries, meantime, all lost in their state openers on Saturday.
At Los Lunas, the American 11-12 squad scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth to pull to 6-5, but Silver City answered with five in the top of the sixth to win 11-5. American plays either host Los Lunas Enchantment or Las Vegas in a 5:30 p.m. elimination game on Monday.
At Los Alamos, the Zia 13-14 contingent fell to Carlsbad 14-1. Zia faces Albuquerque Westgate at 1 p.m. today.
At Albuquerque, the Zia 9-10 All-Stars fell to Roswell Noon Optimists 16-0. Zia is back in action against Albuquerque Westgate at 11 a.m. today.