The hot, windy and humid climate in Yuma made things worse for the Verde Valley Minors All-Stars [ages 9 to 10] last week as they managed to win only one game and were eliminated from the Arizona Little League All-Stars State Tournament.
Pete Kelly, the head coach of the District 10 Verde Valley champions, said this tournament was a great experience for the boys.
“We were so proud of the boys after we finished; it was a good experience. Each of the games we played were close, so it was great,” Kelly said.
Verde Valley went 1-2 in three games last week, with opposing teams only outscoring the boys from Cottonwood, 18-15.
On July 20, Verde Valley played its first game at Yuma Catholic High School and lost a close one to the Rio Vista All-Stars, 7-6.
Verde Valley led 6-0 going into the fourth inning, making it a hard loss to swallow, according to Kelly.
The next day, Verde Valley played the Ahwatukee All-Stars on July 21, but this time, the boys in black and red wouldn’t go down without a fight and scratched a late victory, 7-6.
Tied 6-6 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Tyre Kim walked before Chris Mathe singled to put runners on first and second, with two outs.
Up next to the plate was young stud Tyler Kelly who worked the count before promptly doubling to the gap, sending Kim sprinting home with everything he had to cross the plate and give Verde Valley the victory, 7-6.
“It’s pretty cool to watch that happen; it was a great hit and gave us the win,” Kelly said.
With two games down and one to go, Verde Valley needed just one more win to advance to the final four and give itself a chance to win a state championship.
Unfortunately for Verde Valley, the Lake Havasu All-Stars stood in the way.
Starting pitcher Bryce Cramer toed the mound for Verde Valley but wound up throwing only 20 pitches in one-third of an inning and walking three batters before being pulled by Kelly.
“We had some pitching practice earlier in the day and I thought Bryce [Cramer] was ready to go, but he was a bit wild and I decided to pull him right away for a more experienced pitcher. In the end, I figured if we could win this game Bryce would pitch the next day but it just didn’t happen that way,” Kelly said.
Relief pitcher Chaz Taylor was called upon and wound up doing a bang-up job, pitching 4? innings, allowing four runs on five hits while walking five and striking out four.
Taylor kept Verde Valley in the game for most of the night Thursday, July 22, but the offense couldn’t figure out Lake Havasu’s pitcher and managed only three hits.
“They had a really good pitcher. Even the hits we did have were little bloops or choppers. He kept us off the solid part of the bat all night,” Kelly said.
Down 1-0 in the top of the second inning, Verde Valley tied the score 1-1 after Cramer reached after being hit by a pitch.
Cramer stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball, then eventually scored on another passed ball.
In the top of the fifth inning down 5-1, Verde Valley scored its second run of the night after Tyler Kelly tripled and Josh Scalf singled to record the only RBI of the night.
“I thought we played three pretty good games. Each of the teams we played are basically club teams who play year-round so to play with them like we did is pretty amazing,” Kelly said.