FARMINGTON — The hosts of last year's Connie Mack World Series are ready to begin their defense of the City League Tournament title after closing out City League play with an 8-4 win over the Flat Bill Ducks this afternoon.
The 4-Corners ClubSox fell behind 4-2 in the game but turned things around in the fourth inning with three runs. The victory at Ricketts Park means the ClubSox will ride into the tourney on a four-game win streak.
"We've just been hitting, and guys have been playing a little more loose," ClubSox coach Brycen Cambell said of his squad's recent surge. "Guys have been putting a little more work in, and at the same time, they're having fun."
The ClubSox haven't just been clicking at Ricketts, as they dominated during a tournament in Albuquerque last week with a 7-0 record. They got the job done today by staying patient and taking advantage of some erratic opposing pitching.
As part of a four-walk fourth inning, Ducks reliever Keaton Christy walked Anthony Montoya to bring in Kyle DeWees — the game-tying run — and then served up an RBI single to Austin Evans to relinquish the lead for his team. Christy wasn't helped out by his defense, either, which committed a pair of errors on the basepaths during the ClubSox's mini rally.
Flat Bill coach Brett Alexander said he thought Christy wasn't great, but he battled hard.
"He was rushing himself. He's been pretty solid this summer on the mound," Alexander said. "I thought he competed. He just didn't have his best stuff."
Montoya was the starting pitcher for the Sox. Orlan Warren and Jeremy Griffith also saw some time on the hill, and those two padded the Sox lead with an RBI apiece in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.
Campbell said he liked the assortment of pitchers he went with today, and he plans on all three throwing plenty of pitches during next week's tournament.
"Anthony and Orlan both are going to be starting rotation guys, so we wanted to get both of them a little work," Campbell said. "Thursday's a good bullpen day, get ready for next week. Jeremy got to come in and get work as a reliever, and that's his role."
A rash of opponent changes over the past month has left the Sox with an unbalanced schedule. Despite not knowing what to expect from some teams, Campbell said he thinks his players are talented enough to go toe to toe with anybody.
"We played Flat Bill like seven times. We haven't really seen what everybody's got," Campbell said. "But when we're on our game, we can play with anybody. So next week, it's all going to depend on who brings their best game to the park every day."
For Flat Bill, it's been an action-packed summer. Alexander estimates his team has played about 35 games in six weeks. He said he told his players to rest both their minds and bodies ahead of the tourney.
"We're going to rest some arms, refresh, and then come back and get after it," he said. "I told them leaving the dugout, 'Stop thinking so much and let your muscle memory take care of the game.' These guys are way too athletic and way too good to have dumb little mistakes constantly haunt them. So we're going to get away from the game for a couple days and hopefully come back ready to roll on Monday."
In the first round of the tourney on Monday, the Sox face off against Strike Zone at 8 p.m., the same time Flat Bill plays the Halos at the Farmington Sports Complex.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.