FARMINGTON — The 4C-Clubsox were one pitch away from seeing the 3-1 lead they started the seventh inning with eclipsed and turned into a defeat against the Sting during Friday night's elimination game of the Connie Mack City Tournament at Ricketts Park.
But with the score tied at 3 with a full count, the bases loaded and two outs, relief pitcher Jacob Turcotte got Gavin Martin to strike out swinging on a curveball and end the rally.
"(Turcotte) throws a 3-2 curveball, and I'm a little nervous about it. But that's what he does," Clubsox coach Brett Alexander said. "He was the closer for La Cueva (High School), and he's been in those big-game situations and that's why we went with him."
The strikeout sent the game to extra innings, where the Clubsox scored four runs in the top of the eighth to take a commanding lead before finally winning 7-3.
"We had an opportunity in the seventh and just didn't pull it through with the bases loaded," Sting coach Tim Trotter said. "I'm happy with them for being in a position to compete with those guys."
Friday marked the second straight game the Sting had to go up against one of its former players when the Clubsox sent Chris Moore to the mound to start the contest.
"He was our No. 1, go-to guy. He's solid," Trotter said of Moore. "He went out there and threw a great game. We did a pretty good job at the plate to stay in there with him, but when he gets going, he can be tough."
Kody Russell broke the scoreless tie in the top of the third, lofting a sacrifice fly to center field to score Daniel Herrera and give the Clubsox a 1-0 lead.
After a leadoff single from Isaiah Jaramillo, then a walk for David Saldivar, the Sting had runners on the corners with one away in the bottom of the third. In the at-bat following Saldivar, Martin laid down a great bunt up the first base line to score Jaramillo from third and tie the game at 1.
The Clubsox added two more runs in the top of the fifth, getting back-to-back RBI doubles from Phillip Archuleta and Foster to make it a 3-1 game.
Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh, the Sting put runners on second and third with one out with Taylor Nakai coming to the plate.
Nakai drew a walk to load the bases for the Sting, sparking a pitching change for the Clubsox. Turcotte moved over from third to try to get the save. He struck out Jaramillo, but walked Keaton Christy in the next at-bat to push in a run and make it 3-2. Up next was Saldivar, who hit a slow roller to shortstop for an RBI single to tie the game.
In the next at-bat, Turcotte struck out Martin to send it to extras, where the Clubsox took charge, retaking the lead and securing the victory.
The loss ends the Sting's deep run into the tournament that few expected at the beginning of the season.
"That's been the coolest thing this summer," Trotter said. "One of our fears this summer was getting them to be a family unit — kind of looking out for each other and picking each other up. In the last few weeks, I think they really kind of found that and really started to jell. I'm really happy with it."
The Clubsox will play SZ Morrissey at 5:30 p.m. today at Ricketts Park with the winner getting the 14ers in the City Championship at 8 p.m.
"Pitching wise, we're set up pretty good. We've got a lot of fresh arms that we can throw tomorrow," Alexander said of today's matchup. "There's no game two if you don't win game one, so you can't save pitching for game two. I don't care if we throw seven guys in one inning. If we get to game two, I'll figure something out. We just have to get to game two."