Tue, July 23

11-12 Baseball: Verde Valley crowned champions
Passed ball gave Verde Valley the winning run to end exciting game vs. Camp Verde

Courtesy Photo
The Verde Valley 11-12 All Star Baseball team celebrates after defeating Camp Verde, 5-4 for the District 10 Championship.

Courtesy Photo The Verde Valley 11-12 All Star Baseball team celebrates after defeating Camp Verde, 5-4 for the District 10 Championship.

WILLIAMS -- It came down to the wire for Camp Verde and Verde Valley in the 11-12 All-Star Baseball tournament in Williams on Tuesday. The championship game was as exciting as expected between the two remaining teams after two weeks in the baseball tournament.

Verde Valley came into the Championship game undefeated. Camp Verde battled back from a second round loss to earn a spot in the final game. The two teams from the Verde Valley upset the considered tournament favorites in the Prescott teams and represented their community well. Verde Valley edged Camp Verde, 5-4 for the win and District 10 Tournament Championship

Camp Verde was the visiting team and they struck first with two runs in the top of the first inning. David Chanez led off with a single. Orlando Machado knocked in Chanez and then Ezra Church followed with a sacrifice hit for the second RBI of the game.

The Camp Verde bats have been very strong during the tournament, and they started off that way again against Verde Valley. On the mound for Verde Valley was Ruben Contreras.

In the bottom of the second inning, Verde Valley jumped ahead with four runs with the help of a couple of Camp Verde defensive errors. Verde Valley scored when Oscar Gonzales hit a single, followed by Zane Scott who reached on an error. Armando Durkalec drew a walk and got an RBI. Ruben Contreras hit an RBI single, followed by Miguel with an RBI single. Then Brett Pinar got up and hit another RBI single for the fourth run of the inning.

After two innings, Verde Valley led 4-2. On the mound for Camp Verde in the first inning was Zach Collins, then Tommy McCarty came in for five pitches before former Verde Valley player Orlando Machado took the helm in the bottom of the second and got the final strikeout of the second inning to stop the rally.

In the top of the third, Camp Verde rallied again with two runs to tie the game, 4-4. Ezra Church started things off with a double, followed by Zach Collins with an RBI single. Collins stole second, the Jose Perez followed with an RBI single to drive in the second and tying run.

After three innings, the game was tied at 4-4. Ruben Contreras for Verde Valley and Orlando Machado for Camp Verde battled against each other for most of the fourth inning before Miguel Gonzales took over for Verde Valley and closed the game out on the mound.

Despite having a lot of base runners for both teams, neither team could get a runner across home plate. Then in the bottom of the sixth inning, Verde Valley got things going. With one out, Herb Tiffany hit a single, then Contreras hit a single to put Tiffany at second. Tiffany then stole third. Gonzales struckout for out no. 2. Then Brett Pinar got up to the plate. With two outs, Machado threw a curve ball that hit the dirt then raced past the catcher. Tiffany got on his horse and went for the steal at home. Machado dove at the plate with the ball and Tiffany slid under the tag for the winning run.

In an exciting fashion, Verde Valley capped off an undefeated run at the tournament with a 5-4 win over a very strong Camp Verde team. The win made Verde Valley the 2009 District 10 Tournament Champions.

"We had one bad inning defensively," said Camp Verde coach Tom McCarty. "We were coming out hitting the ball, we were always one hit away from breaking the game open, it was just that close. I am so proud of the boys."

Camp Verde's team MVP for the tournament, chosen by the coaches was David Chanez. Chanez was the leadoff hitter for Camp Verde and seemed to always find a way to get on base. He also played centerfield and saved many hits from going over the fence.

"He's our spark plug, our energizer," said McCarty. "He did great in the tournament, he didn't falter. I appreciated his enthusiasm and effort on offense and defense."

The Camp Verde team has seven 12-year-olds that will move up to the juniors next year, which coach McCarty is excited about.

Verde Valley's coach, Tim McKeever is equally proud of his team. This team felt vindicated after their losses two years ago in the Championship. Back in Williams, they were set up to do great things, and they did.

"Everyone contributed and really picked each other up," said coach McKeever. "The team was pretty nervous about playing against Camp Verde, but they dug deep. I couldn't be more proud."

Contreras finished with 4-2/3 innings on the mound with six strikeouts. Gonzales pitched 1-1/3 and had four strikeouts. At the plate, Contreras went 2-for-4, Gonzales went 3-for-4 and Pinar went 3-for-3.

"I just wanted to thank my wife Leann for being so patient with baseball season year after year," said McKeever. "I also wanted to thank all the coaches in the league during the regular season, its everyone's win as well. My assistant coach, Bill Pinar and I have coached with each other since our kids were seven and its cool to share this together. Winning a district title is special."

Verde Valley advances to the 11-12 All Star State Tournament at the Rio Vista Sports Complex in Peoria. The tournament begins on Monday with a guaranteed six games in pool play. Verde Valley will play every day next week except for Tuesday. The top four teams in each pool will face off in a single-elimination bracket play beginning the following week.

"I told the kids that someone has to win State, so it might as well be us," said coach McKeever.