RUIDOSO – It’s official, Ruidoso’s Intermediate All-Star team is again representing District 2 in this year’s State tournament.
However, unlike in years past – they had to earn a spot in the state playoffs.
That’s because they were up against not one, but two other Little League teams in district with Mescalero and Capitan each fielding teams.
The Ruidoso-Capitan games, in particular, were exciting affairs that truly tested Ruidoso, according to coach Cade Hall.
“We came out strong, but we couldn’t keep them from putting runs on the board,” Hall said following his team’s 16-11 victory over Capitan on July 2. “They just kept coming back.”
With the win, Ruidoso will travel to Clovis for the State tournament starting this weekend, taking on Roosevelt County at 8 p.m. on July 7.
West Mesa takes on East Mountain in the other quarterfinal at 5 p.m. earlier that day.
The double elimination tournament – to be played at Mike Harris Field in northwest Clovis – is scheduled to run through at least July 9.
Ruidoso needed to win two in a row against Capitan to get their State spot, including a 17-6 victory on June 30.
Saturday’s game was much closer throughout, although Ruidoso again took an early 7-0 lead in the first inning.
That lead didn’t last, as Capitan put up five runs of its own in the bottom of the first, and the dogfight was on.
Ruidoso extended the lead a bit to 9-5 and stayed ahead the rest of the game, it was just never that far ahead.
“There were some very interesting plays and calls all night,” said coach Hall. “But if we were going to be competitive at state, we needed a team like Capitan to challenge us like they did. They pushed us to our limits.”
Capitan got to within a run in the bottom of the third at 11-10 and had the bases loaded before a strikeout ended the inning.
Capitan didn’t help its cause with a substitution error and some base running mistakes that stopped their rallies before they began.
After Ben Burtt hit a two run double in the top of the seventh inning and then scored on a wild pitch, it was up to Bracxton Hall to take the mound and close things out.
It still wasn’t easy – Capitan loaded the bases with two outs before a pop fly to Logan Good at shortstop ended the game and gave the title to Ruidoso.
“We knew we had to show up or lose, so we dug deep at gave it our all,” Bracxston said. “The tide was turning for us.”