FARMINGTON — In a meeting between the two unbeaten teams remaining in the Connie Mack City Tournament, the Rivercats and Flat Bill Ducks did not disappoint Thursday night.
The two teams dueled for 13 innings before the Ducks broke the 1-1 tie the two sides shared since the third inning when Adalfo Iturralde hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Zach Taylor from third.
“My hat’s off to the Rivercats and us. I’ve been involved in baseball for 27 years as a player or a coach, and that was one of the best games I think this community has ever seen,” Flat Bill coach Brett Alexander said.
Pitching dominated the game. Kyler Duggins started the game for Flat Bill and threw 130 pitches in 12 innings, allowing one run on five hits.
“I don’t like to stretch a kid that way, but in the eighth inning in the dugout he told me, ‘Coach, you’re not taking me out of this game. It’s my game,’” Alexander said. “He’s a horse. That’s what you want in your No. 1 pitcher.”
Brandon Gardenhire went seven innings for the Rivercats with the only run coming on a balk in the first inning. After Gardenhire, Tyler Mead came on in relief in the seventh and went the rest of the game.
“Tyler hit every one of his spots. He was really dialed in, and that’s all I can say about it,” Rivercats coach Mike McGaha said.
The Ducks got one run in the bottom of the first when Taylor, who reached on a double, scored from third after Gardenhire was called for a balk.
The Rivercats pulled even in the top of the third with a sacrifice fly from Brandon Gardenhire that scored Isaiah Gamboa from third base.
The Rivercats had chances to score add another run in the third, but marooned a runner on third. They also left runners in scoring position in the first and fourth innings.
The Ducks threatened in the bottom of the sixth.
Gabe Valdez led off the inning with a walk and reached second on a Beau Crawford sacrifice bunt. But Gardenhire struck out the next batter and got the third out of the inning with a ground ball to first base.
The two sides went to extra innings and the Rivercats looked poised to break the tie in the eighth after Gardenhire doubled to left field with one out. But Duggins got the next two batters to fly out to avoid any damage.
With one out in the top of the 11th, Devin Ferrari doubled to right field and advanced to third on a throwing error from the Ducks. But a strikeout from Duggins, followed by a pop-up, ended the inning with Ferrari stranded on third.
The Rivercats saw a chance for a 2-1 lead in the top of the 13th disappear when Elijah Gamboa was called out at the plate after a relay throw from center field came in just in time for the tag.
The Rivercats will play 4-Corners at 5:30 today at Ricketts Park.
Flat Bill will play Strike Zone at 8 tonight at Ricketts Park.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.