Connie Mack City Tournament: Naa'taannii escapes Rivercats 6-5

Karl Schneider The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Naa'taanii kept its Connie Mack World Series hopes alive, escaping the Rivercats 6-5 in the Connie Mack City Tournament at the Farmington Sports Complex Wednesday.

"That's a good team over there," Naa'taanii coach Dineh Benally said of the Rivercats, which is made up of returning high school players from Piedra Vista High. "They don't quit. If they don't win the state title, I'd be surprised."

After a quick first inning, Naa'taanii got on the scoreboard in the top of the second.

Garrett Garcia led the inning off with a single, then Tyler Shumard reached after a long at-bat resulted in a walk, putting two runners on with no outs. Two batters later, Carlos Ramirez drove both runners in with a single to the right-field corner.

Ramirez came around to score on the next at-bat on an RBI double from Daniel Barela.

A few times in the middle innings, Naa'taanii had chances to build its lead, but each time a threat arose, the Rivercat defense was there to make key plays.

"Offensively, we need to keep scoring runs," Benally said. "I have to give their (the Rivercats) pitchers and team credit, there were a couple of innings where we almost could have blown it open, but they came up with outs."

The Rivercat offense got going in the bottom of the fourth.

After leading off the inning with a single, Casey Simmons touched home on an RBI double from Logan Klunder. Later in the inning, with two away, Tyler Mead got a hard grounder through the infield to drive in Elijah Gamboa and cut the deficit to 3-2.

Naa'taanii gave itself a little breathing room in the top of the sixth when Barela came through again, this time with a two-RBI double to the gap in right center, driving in Garcia and Ramirez.

But the Rivercats answered in the bottom of the inning.

After Andrew Caliendo was hit by a pitch, Logan Klunder singled to put two on with no outs. In the next at-bat, Gamboa doubled to bring one run in, then Tyler Mead hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to make it 5-4. In the next at bat, Colton Foster drove in Gamboa to tie the game at 5.

Naa'taanii took advantage of a costly Rivercats mistake in the top of the seventh.

With two outs on the board and a runner on third, a pitch in the dirt got to the backstop and allowed Neil Evans to score and take a 6-5 lead. Later in the same at-bat, Orlan Warren struck out the Naa'taanii batter to end the inning.

Naa'taanii retired the Rivercats in order in the bottom of the seventh to seal the win.

"Right now, in this tournament, we're happy with a win," Benally said. "We don't care how it looks. A win is a win."

Naa'taanii will play the 4C-Clubsox at 5:30 p.m. today at Ricketts Park.

Halos hold off SZ Scanlan

Pitcher Arwin Chee kept SZ Scanlan off balance and helped lead the Halos to a 6-3 victory in an elimination game of the Connie Mack City Tournament at Ricketts Park.

SZ Scanlan struck first, scoring two runs in the second inning on an Alex Vigil single to take a 2-0 lead.

In the top of the fourth, the Halos cracked the scoreboard when Chee drove in Chance Harvey from third to make it 2-1.

Later in the inning with two outs, Erick Skinner hit it in the gap in left-center. The ball got behind the shallow-playing outfield to bring in two more runs and give the Halos a 3-2 lead.

The Halos would add two more runs in the inning on a wild pitch.

The wild pitch allowed Skinner to score from third, then the throw from the backstop to home to try to get Skinner was wide. With the ball rolling in the infield, Loren Yazzie had enough time to make it home from second to extend the Halos' lead to 5-2.

After putting up putting up two runs early in the game, SZ Scanlan struggled to get on base the rest of the game with just five batters reaching in innings three through seven.

"We just lacked the ability to make the adjustment today," SZ Scanlan coach Alex Scanlan said. "They had a soft-throwing lefty who we tried to pull. We tried pulling him all day and couldn't. When that happens, you're going to strike out and ground out, and that's what we did all game."

The loss eliminates SZ Scanlan from the tournament.

The Halos will play the 14ers at 3 p.m. today at Ricketts Park.

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648 and Follow him @karltschneider on Twitter.