The West Flagstaff Little League Brick Diamondbacks wanted to be aggressive at the plate entering Thursday's game against No. 1-seeded WFLL Black.
Logan Weidinger had one of his team's two-run home runs in the first inning and pitched 3 2/3 solid innings, and Brick blasted the Black D-backs out of the winners bracket to advance to the semifinals of the 2019 city majors tournament.
Kaden Shinner also smacked one out of the park at Dawson Field in the opening frame of the 14-5 victory. Both homers sailed out over the center-field fence.
"Our plan heading into the game was just swing the bat. Attack the ball, and you are going to get strikes, but swing the bat." said WFLL Brick D-backs manager Gary Kirkman.
WFLL Black went 13-1 in the regular season to take the No. 1 seed and receive a bye on Day 1. No. 3-seeded Black battled them tough before the tourney started and used a hit-happy order to get the win this time.
Weidinger went 3 for 4 with three RBIs, the homer and a double. He allowed one earned run on three hits while recording eight strikeouts and three walks.
"That's what he does, he comes out and throws strikes," Kirkman said. "He kept them off-balance with his little curve ball, and that's all you have to do, is throw strikes, keep them off."
Weidinger ran out of pitches, but Thomas Guinan had plenty of good ones to follow in relief. Guinan struck out the first four batters he faced and exited in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Ks and one walk issued. Skinner closed from there, giving up a two-run single on the final batter, who was called out at first base on a controversial, game-ending pickle play as a run scored.
Thanks to the homers, Brick opened with a four-run lead and continued to keep the pressure on, riding the "high energy" the team had from the dingers.
Rowdy McGourin cut Black's deficit to 7-2 on an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth that followed up a run scored on a passed ball. But Brick responded with three runs scored in the fifth and four in the sixth.
Milo Webb was 2 for 3 with three RBIs, Canyon Kirkman went 2 for 4 and Jace Adams finished 1 for 3 with an RBI for Brick, which scored runs in all but one frame.
Aeneyas Clerry, batting seventh for Brick, made it 10-2 with his fifth-inning RBI double.
"I thought we did a lot of the little things (to get the win)," Brick's skipper said. "Even at the bottom of the lineup, they executed and followed the plan."
William Akens had an RBI for Black, which will play today at 5 p.m. on Dawson Field.
The score for the losers bracket game between CLL Camo and WFLL Pinstripe was not available at press time. Black will face the winner of that game.
Meanwhile, Brick and WFLL Gray will face off today at 7:30 p.m. on Dawson to see who will be in the championship round.
CLL RED 10, CLL WHITE 0
Ezra Merrell pitched a gem as his No. 2-seeded CLL Red D-backs shut out the No. 4-seeded CLL White D-backs in a four-inning run-rule win at the Continental Little League Fields on Thursday night.
Merrell pitched all four innings, giving up just two hits, walking one batter and striking out three in the dominant, 10-0 win in the bottom half of the 2019 Flagstaff Little League City Majors Tournament bracket.
Merrell was able to keep his pitch count low, throwing 47 pitches with 34 called strikes to just 13 balls.
CLL Red advances to take on No. 1 CLL Gray today at 6 p.m. on Field Two.
It was easy going for Red on Thursday as the squad closed the game with a five-run burst in the bottom of the fourth inning, capped off with an RBI double by Maddox Knott to end the game.
The bottom half of the fourth started off with a deep single to the center-field gap by Kaden Clinger, who was brought in on a sacrifice RBI by Jackson Clouse. The offense kept rolling with a double down the left-field line by Merrell, aiding his cause on the mound with his lone hit of the day.
After Steve Stone was walked by White pitcher Corbin Derr, White brought in Cameron Chee in replacement, only for Red’s Travis Gates to hit a two-RBI double off the relief pitcher -- sailing the ball over the center fielder’s head.
The inning continued with a single by Landon Stewart followed by a sacrifice RBI by Connor Allen and then Knott’s RBI double to end the game early.
Gates led Red’s offensive charge with three RBIs on 3-of-3 hitting with one single and two doubles. He also came in to score on two runs.
Red’s manager Steve Stone said the fielding by his team was probably the cleanest he has seen, and that the performance by Merrell on the bump and Gates at the plate were the highlights of the win.
"Defensively it was one of the best, and offensively we have put up 16, 17 runs before," Red's skipper said. "But defensively I would say that was the sharpest we have been. With no errors, that's what I would highlight."
As a team, Red had 12 hits -- six singles and six doubles -- and committed zero fielding errors in a clean game.
All but two players from Red recorded hits in the win while Gates, Knott and Stewart all registered multiple hits.
On the other side White struggled to find rhythm as only Derr, who went 2 for 2 at the plate, could land a hit on Merrell.
-- Lance Hartzler,
Sun Sports Reporter