It was a tense contest Sunday night at Smokey Joe Williams Field.
The Seguin Senior Little League team had their backs against the wall, facing an elimination game with New Mexico (East Mountain LL) — in what was a win or go home scenario.
Seguin was trying to come back after a marathon loss to West Texas (Snyder LL), 11-10, Saturday night.
With just a one-run lead, the Seguin bats came to life in the sixth, and coupled with some creative base running and some balls bouncing their way, pushed five runs across the plate for a 10-4 lead they would not relenquish.
Seguin went on to win 11-6, advancing from the loser’s bracket game to face Oklahoma for the second time in the tournament.
“We came out tonight and did what we needed to do,” said head coach Shawn Osborne. “It means everything to these boys, they knew they had to come out and fight tonight and every game the rest of the week.
“Every game is an elimination game — and we have to come with the same intensity we did in the first game of the tournament. I think these boys understand that if we drop one game, we’re out and we go home.”
The game went back and forth the first five innings, with Seguin striking first in the third.
Tristan Moreno got things rolling with a deep shot in the gap that rolled all the way to the fence for a stand-up triple, and after two successive walks, the bases were loaded.
Moreno scored on a passed ball, and with the bases loaded and two outs, a balk sent Clark Ullrich home for the 2-0 lead.
But New Mexico came right back in the bottom of the inning, scoring two runs on a single to left, and game was tied at 2.
Otto Gueldner scored with some great base running in the next inning, after a Moreno shot to short was thrown to first, and Gueldner snuck in from third for the go-ahead run.
New Mexico scored twice in their half of the inning for the 4-3 lead, before Seguin loaded the bases again in the fifth. A Jaxen Monkerud double scored two and Seguin retook the lead, 5-4.
“That New Mexico team is a great team,” Osborne said. “They’re coached well and every player on that team is good — we had to battle a little bit and once the bats came alive we started making things happen.”
Moreno started on the hill and held New Mexico to just the two early runs. Kaden Monkerud came in two pitchers later to hold New Mexico in check for most of the rest of the game.
“Tristan kept them from scoring early and Caden came in and just did great for us, he really did his job out there,” Osborne said.
Clinging to the one-run lead, Seguin blew it open in the top of the sixth — all with two outs.
After loading the bases on a single, walk and an error, the first of two close plays at the plate didn’t go Seguin’s way.
Stephen Kent hit a grounder to third, and Logan Purdum was thrown out on a very close play, with a perfect throw to the catcher, on a slide into the plate.
But the next batter, Heston Osborne, singled to short left just over the glove of the shortstop — after Moreno was sent on an attempted steal of home and scored to make it 6-4.
Ullrich scored on another balk before a Jaxen Monkerud single brought in Stephen Kent, who just beat the throw home with a slide on the outside of the plate to put Seguin up 8-4.
Aden Supak singled to bring in Osborne, and a Gueldner single to score Monkerud for the final runs of the inning, and Seguin had a six-run lead.
Two of the singles with two outs were on sharp hit balls to the middle of the infield, and both times the balls were too hot for the New Mexico infield to handle, extending the inning.
“We had some good fortune go our way — that’s just baseball,” Osborne said. “We have to thank the baseball gods for those.”
Coach Osborne put on two steal attempts from third base, one in the sixth (Moreno, who was almost all the way home when the ball was hit) and another in the seventh (Ullrich, who scored on a walk.)
“We had to get creative on how we were going to score runs,” the coach said. “We sent Tristan and then we sent Clark right behind him. We had to squeeze in some runs wherever we could find them in a game like this.”
With Seguin up 11-6, Jaxen made an incredible, diving catch in left field in the bottom of the seventh inning to prevent a runner from reaching base — ending any hopes of a New Mexico come back.
“He came back in the dugout pretty upset, because the last at bat for him the exact same play had got him out,” Osborne said. “So it was a little bit of vengeance for him.
“Jaxen made some nice plays in the outfield and Heston played great offensively. But everyone of these kids contributed in some way tonight.”
Martin Ramirez, Gueldner and Jaxen Monkerud had two hits each for the game, with Monkerud driving in three, while Ullrich scored three times and Moreno and Kent scored twice.
Seguin fell into the loser’s bracket after a four-hour long marathon loss to West Texas, 11-10, that ended just before midnight Saturday night.
After falling behind 8-0 and 11-2, Seguin almost pulled off the miracle comeback in the late innings, scoring eight runs in the last three innings.
After scoring five runs in the seventh, the game would end with Seguin leaving the tying run stranded at third base.
But the win over New Mexico on Sunday night advanced them to play Oklahoma last night, a team they beat in the first game of the tournament.
A win would get them to a semifinal game tonight, with the championship game set for Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The tournament winner advances to the Senior Little League World Series, July 27-Aug. 3 in Easley, South Carolina, with games televised on ESPN.
Look for the story on last night’s game in Wednesday’s Seguin Gazette.
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at email@example.com.