The Ahwatukee Little League had one shot left Wednesday night of making it to the finals of the District 13 tournament after two defeats in the semifinals already in the books.
Let’s hear it for the little guys.
The 9- and 10-year-old team got the job done in securing at least one ALL team in the D13 finals yet again by beating Chandler National North 8-5 at Tempe Sports Complex.
The next step is tonight at 7 p.m. against Chandler National South, the only team to beat ALL in this tournament.
“We made the plays we needed and hit like we always do,” manager Mike Mettner said. “Now we are playing for the District 13 title. Can’t ask for anything more than that.”
ALL led the semifinal game from the start, grabbing a 5-1 advantage and expanded on it after CNLL North closed within 5-4 after four innings.
“We want a shot at (CNLL South) so we knew we had to win this one,” Corbin Mettner said. “We had our chance last time and couldn’t finish it.”
In the opening game of the tournament, ALL led CNLL South by four runs in the sixth and final inning but couldn’t hold the lead.
“When we lost our first game, our coaches talked about how we had to finish games,” player Colby Grennan said. “Hopefully it turns out different this time.”
The other ALL teams don’t have that luxury after coming up short in the semifinals.
The 10- and 11-year-old squad lost 10-6 to CNLL North on Monday before it went on to win the title game on Wednesday over CNLL South.
The ALL Majors were unable to defend the D13 title it won last year but not before pushing the top-seeded CNLL South to the very end, losing 1-0 on a home run.
It was an extremely well played game that could have gone either way, especially if the ALL squad could have taken advantage of the bases loaded and a one-out situation instead of producing nothing.
“It was a great game, I mean come on, a 1-0 game in Little League baseball…,” Manager Todd McFarlane said. “We missed some signs tonight, but as always this team played hard. We were in every game but didn’t have enough.
“We weren’t the most talented or biggest, but no one played harder than we did.”
The hard-luck loser in the title game was starting pitcher Luis Noriega, who went the distance and unofficially allowed only three hits against a very tough lineup.
“We played a great game and still lost, but that’s baseball,” Noriega said. “We didn’t get enough breaks to go our way.”
It appears ALL’s youngest team just might be getting those breaks as it plays for a bid for the Show Low district tournament.
“They are the most coachable bunch I have ever had,” the elder Mettner said. “They are a hitting machine one through 12. We have an opportunity to redeem ourselves and hopefully we can get it done.”
In order to do so, the team, which is 5-1 overall and outscored its opponents 68-27, is going to have to play at another level.
“We have a little (letdown) in our defense,” the younger Mettner said. “We are good on offense and score lots of runs so if we played good defense we can go a long way.”
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