Sat, Dec. 07

10-11 Verde Valley stays perfect in State Tournament
Cordell McKeever slams base-clearing double to spark rally in the third

In Kingman Friday night the 10-11 Verde Valley Little League All-Stars took on Gilbert American in the second game of the pool play in the State Tournament. After six full innings and a huge showing at the plate, Verde Valley dominated and won the game, 9-1.

Orlando Machado took the mound and pitched 5-1/3 innings. He fanned five batters and allowed only two hits. In the sixth inning Ruben Contreras finished out the final two outs of the game.

It was all about the bats for Verde Valley. After a quiet first and second innings by both teams, Verde Valley came alive and scored six runs to take a commanding lead.

Jalin Moore started things off when he reached on an error. Herb Tiffany followed after drawing a walk. Machado reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases. The next two batters struck out and it looked as if Verde Valley's rally was going to be cut short before any runs would score. That was until Cordell McKeever smashed a double down the right field line to clear the bases and put three on the scoreboard.

"It was like a missile," said team Manager Tim McKeever.

Brandon McIlvoy kept things going with a single to put runners at the corners. McIlvoy advanced to second on a passed ball to put both runners in scoring position. Then a fielding error on Miguel Gonzalez's hit scored McKeever from third. Zane Scott got up to bat and ripped a single between first and second base, which scored McIlvoy and Gonzalez to put Verde Valley up 6-0.

Gilbert couldn't answer back in the bottom of the third. Then in the top of the fourth Verde Valley added two more runs to its lead when Machado got on with a single and then Brett Pinar slammed a 2-run shot over the fence.

Gilbert American finally scored one run in the bottom of the fifth but it was too little, too late. Verde Valley scored one more run in the top of the sixth when Pinar led off with a single. Ruben Contreras hit a single and then McKeever hit a single to drive in the final run of the game.

Gilbert had its ups in the bottom of the inning but Verde Valley shut them down and got the 9-1 win.

At the plate McKeever led Verde Valley by going 2-for-3 with four RBIs. Pinar went 2-for-4 with the home run and Machado went 2-for-4.

Defensively, not only did Machado have a solid game on the mound pitching, but he also had four putouts on bunts. Gilbert's batters began bunting instead of taking their swings because Machado was doing such a good job of keeping the Gilbert offense quiet. Either way, he and the Verde Valley defense were getting the outs and keeping Gilbert quiet.

Verde Valley took the field again on Saturday against Pantano out of Tucson. It was a battle of the two remaining undefeated teams in the pool. Monday night Verde Valley faces Mountain View at 7:45 p.m.

"Then it's wait-and-see from there," said McKeever. Verde Valley needs to win at least one more between Saturday and Monday's games to make it into the semifinal round, which is single-elimination.

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