FARMINGTON — For the second time in as many days, Naa'taanii found itself in a tighter than expected game at the Connie Mack City Tournament.
But just like on Thursday, the team managed to escape with the win, this time defeating the Sting 5-4 on Friday at Ricketts Park.
The Sting loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, trailing by a single run, and looked to be on the verge of tying the game on a fly ball to center from Easton Haskill. But Bryce Washburn was gunned down at home as he tagged from third base on a throw by Jared Rodriguez to end the game, keeping Naa'taanii alive for the Connie Mack World Series host bid and ending the Sting's season.
Naa'taanii head coach Dineh Benally wasn't happy with the way his team let the Sting hang around in the game a day after needing two runs in the sixth inning to advance past the RiverCats.
"We had no business playing that close. The guys need to respect the game," Benally said. "They don't know what we're playing for as a team. They think this is just another tournament. They need to understand that this is a big event."
The Naa'taanii hitters jumped Sting starter Isaiah George in the opening inning to score three runs.
Rodriguez led off the inning with a triple to the right field wall and then scored on a wild pitch.
Felipe Senora and Anthony Acevedo had RBI hits to give Naa'taanii the 3-0 advantage.
"Isaiah George came out in the first inning and left the ball up, but after that, he settled in and gave us every chance to win," Sting coach Tim Trotter said.
Bloomfield graduate Brandon Detrick added another run for Naa'taanii in the top of the fourth with an RBI single to score Navajo Prep's Alex Danzuka.
The Sting broke onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth after Rylan Deyapp led off with a walk and then came around to score on an RBI single by Bryce Washburn.
After Naa'taanii pushed the lead to 5-1 in the fifth, the Sting came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Deyapp had an RBI double and Dominic Martinez scored on a wild pitch to help the Sting get back in the contest.
The Farmington High developmental team had a chance to inch closer, loading the bases with two outs, but George ground out to first to end the Sting threat.
Deyapp again got a Sting rally going with a lead off single to start the seventh inning and then came around to score on a single by Washburn.
Two more singles by George and Alik Abbott loaded the bases for Haskill, whose fly out followed by Rodriguez's throw to the plate ended the game.
Despite the disappointing end to the season, Trotter said he saw a lot of positive signs this summer from his team.
"If you're gonna go out, that's how you want to go out, I guess," he said. "We just need to keep getting stronger and faster in the weight room. That will allow us to get a little more pop at the plate, but I'm happy with the growth this summer."
Naa'taanii will advance to face 4-Corners for the first time in the tournament, and Benally knows his team will need to play better to get by the Club Sox.
"We need to get our bats going, and our pitching needs to be a little more solid," Benally said.