FARMINGTON— Few things baseball, even life, are better than a walk-off win. One thing better than a walk off win is a walk off win in extra innings to advance to the Connie Mack City Championship and that's exactly what the 4-Corners Club Sox did Saturday night at Ricketts Park, topping Naa'taanii 4-3 in extra innings.
"Our kids are a bunch of badgers, they don't give up on anything," 4-Corners coach Brett Alexander said his team's performance. "They've been through so much this summer, they're not afraid of anybody."
Naa'taanii's Devin Ortiz got things started in the top of the first, driving in Victor Chavez when Ortiz's chopper reached right field after bouncing off the outstretched glove of Club Sox second baseman Jacob Turcotte.
After allowing runners on first and second with one out in the top of the fourth, the 4-Corners defense got back under control after a visit to the mound from Alexander.
"I just told them to settle in," Alexander said. "I told them we've practiced this before so let's see if it works."
In the at bat following Alexander's visit, the Club Sox picked off Naa'taanii's Jesus Chavez at second for the inning's second out.
"We put a wheel play on, and it worked perfect. The funny thing is we've worked on it a little but not as much as we would've liked," Alexander said of the pick off.
In the top of the fifth, with two on and two outs, Naa'taanii's Devin Ortiz loaded the bases after he was hit by a high and inside pitch. The next at bat saw Jesus Chavez hit a grounder to short, which was stabbed by Matt Martin on a diving play. But the throw didn't come in time, scoring the first of Naa'taanii's two runs in the inning and stretching the lead to 3-0.
The Club Sox got new life in the bottom of the sixth.
After Jeff Diemling drew a lead off walk, Martin laid down a sacrifice bunt but was called safe at first in what looked like a clear out, ending Victor Chavez's no-hit bid. The Club Sox would go on to load the bases with one out, but were only able to get one run across after a wild pitch from Chavez.
In the bottom of the seventh Chavez walked back-to-back batters to put two on with one out and keeping the Club Sox in the game. On a two-one count to Martin, Chavez missed his mark and threw inside to the lefty, who made the pitcher pay, driving the ball to deep right for a two-RBI double that tied the game at three and forced extras.
"I was just trying to get a pitch to hit and it was down and in, and I was able to put the bat on it. It was a little deja vu like last year," Martin said, referring to a near identical play against Naa'taanii in last year's City Tournament.
After the Club Sox retired the side in the top of the eighth, Rizek stretched out a hard hit grounder that made it through the infield, reaching second on the play.
Naa'taanii walked the next two batters to set up a potential inning-ending double play, but a ground ball off Heyden Sill's bat knocked in the game winning run for the Club Sox.
With the win 4-Corners advances to play Strike Zone in the City Championship scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Ricketts Park. As 4-Corners is yet to be defeated during the tournament, Strike Zone will have to beat the Club Sox twice to take the title.
"It's going to take every guy out there to win that game," Martin said of the upcoming matchup with Strike Zone. "We're just gonna have to go out there and do what we do best and get the routine outs and play to the best of our ability."
Naa'taanii assistant Bobby Byrd said his team will file an injunction against the league after the loss, citing a history of missed calls against the squad. including the Martin call at first base and inconsistent ball and strike calls that allowed 4-Corners' walks.
"Unfortunately, the umpire can dictate who wins and loses with calls he makes," Byrd said. "We just want thing to be done fairly."