The decision to save their top pitcher for use down the stretch paid off big for the West Flagstaff Little League Brick Diamondbacks on Monday, the opening day of the 2019 Flagstaff Little League City Majors Tournament.
Logan Weidinger recorded six strikeouts and one walk while working the final two innings, Canyon Kirkman connected on a two-run home run in the first and Brick outlasted the Continental Little League Red D-backs 14-11 on Field Two at the Continental Little League Fields, shaking off some jitters en route to the win that went an extra inning.
Weidinger batted third for hard-hitting Brick, which tallied 14 hits and never lost the lead despite dealing with three ties in the ballgame, and he went 1 for 4 with a two-run double in the top of the second inning that gave his team a 5-2 lead.
The righty took over the mound in the bottom of the sixth and struck out the side in order, keeping the game locked up at 11-all after an overall scoreless inning.
"He's our ace is what it comes down to, and we knew that if we were in a situation where we had to use him that we would let him run," WFLL Brick D-backs manager Gary Kirkman said of Weidinger. "He's been dominant, throwing strikes all year."
But both teams saw their share of struggles finding the strike zone at times and combined for eight total hit-by-pitch calls.
"There were some nerves, but we ended up pulling it off," Gary Kirkman said.
Canyon Kirkman's shot that bounced off and over the top of the fence just left of the batter's eye made it 2-0 for Brick, which started the game with Payne Lowry's double and had four of its first five hitters of the lineup contribute RBIs.
Brick went ahead 8-7 on a Kirkman RBI double that turned into a bases-clearing knock as he circled the paths for home plate to make it 10-7 thanks to an error. Kirkman finished 2 for 3 and he started the game on the mound for Brick, lasting 2 1/3 innings.
CLL Red knotted it up at 11-all when Jackson Clouse, who was 3 for 3 with a walk and two RBIs, doubled in a pair with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the fifth. Brick turned a double play on the next batter and then induced a groundout to stop the bleeding.
Landon Stewart had five RBIs for Red, CLL's No. 2 seed. Red's six through 10 hitters, however, struggled to put runs on the board and combined for nine strikeouts.
Thomas Guinan was 4 for 4 with a double and an RBI single for No. 3-seeded Brick, which used the win to avoid playing back-to-back days. He singled to lead off the top of the seventh frame and scored the go-ahead run on a double-steal move.
Red's Connor Allen came into the game with one out and a runner on first base in the bottom of the second and his team down 14-11 after some errors, and he nabbed a liner and doubled up the runner at first to end the inning.
"I thought we could tighten up the defense a lot," Brick's skipper Kirkman said. "But hey, we came out and battled and the kids were swinging the bats well. It's about all we could ask for."
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WFLL GRAY 5, CLL CAMO 0
WFLL's No. 2 seed got a shutout performance from its pitching staff on the opening day of the majors tournament, bouncing the third-seeded CLL Camo D-backs into the losers bracket while allowing just three hits.
The Gray D-backs saw starting pitcher Jake Hanely give up just two hits across five innings of work. He struck out eight before Ayden Francom replaced him on the mound for the final inning.
Daniel Faust finished 1 for 2 at the plate for Gray, which totaled five hits as a team and only the one RBI from Faust. Francom added a knock and Christian Welker had a team-high two hits.
Gray scored one run in the first inning, and then scored two in the bottom of the third and fourth innings.
Brody Johnson pitched a complete game in a solid effort for Camo, which couldn't draw a walk off the opposing throwers the entire game. The starting pitcher struck out nine and issued two walks to go with two earned runs on five hits.
Wes Shafor had a double for Camo.
WFLL Gray will face the winner of Monday's game between WFLL Pinstripe and CLL Gray today at 5 p.m. on Dawson Field.
CLL WHITE 10, WFLL PURPLE 6
The CLL White D-backs used a seven-run inning in the bottom of the third to take control of Monday's game and not look back against the WFLL Purple D-backs on Field Two, becoming the first team from the hosting league to win on opening day of the majors tourney.
Cole Mizer recorded three RBIs on a 2-for-3 day to go with a run scored and a double for the No. 4-seeded White D-backs, who totaled 10 hits as a team.
Austin Rodriquez, Corbin Derr and Tucker Williams also added RBIs in the victory that pushed White to a meeting today with WFLL's No. 1 seed, the Black D-backs.
Today's game between the two is set for 7:30 p.m. at Dawson Field.
Wyatt Maier drilled a two-run homer for fifth-seeded Purple. Purple's Tyler Iniguez was 1 for 3 with two runs scored.
Purple will face the winner of the game between WFLL Pinstripe and CLL Gray today at 6 p.m. on Field Two.