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Verde Valley Little League Majors All Stars undefeated in D-10
The 2012 Verde Valley Majors baseball All Stars
pose for a team picture holding the District 10 banner after defeating Camp Verde in the Championship game Wednesday in Cottonwood. VVN/Sean Morris
7/12/2012 2:24:00 PM
By Sean Morris
COTTONWOOD-The Verde Valley Majors baseball All Star team went undefeated (5-0) in the Little League District 10 tournament, winning the Championship game Wednesday over Camp Verde, 10-3, at Riverfront in Cottonwood.
Camp Verde had a first-round bye and lost to Verde Valley in the second round, 8-1. The boys in blue proceeded to win five straight elimination games to earn the right to face Verde Valley again in the Championship game.
Since Verde Valley made it to the championship game from the winner's bracket, Camp Verde needed to win twice to claim the banner.
For the first two innings Camp Verde looked like they had a chance, but Verde Valley scored a combined nine runs in the third and fourth innings, effectively squashing Camp Verde's hopes of an upset.
Matt Bachler hit his first home run ever in a game to aid Verde Valley's rally. After the three-run homer, Verde Valley never looked back.
Verde Valley pitcher Tyler Kelly kept Camp Verde hitters guessing and nearly pitched his second complete game of the tournament.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the state for his age," said Camp Verde head coach Spencer Young. "We had to be perfect in the field and at the plate to have a chance against him, and we weren't perfect tonight."
For the second year in a row, the District 10 Majors baseball tournament hosts* beat Camp Verde twice in an undefeated campaign.
Hosting the tournament is undoubtedly an advantage, but Verde Valley was clearly the best team in the tournament; the closest game for them was an 8-4 victory over Prescott North.
"Our team worked very had to go undefeated in the tournament. We did the small things, played good defense, and got timely hits. Our power at the plate came around later in the tournament. The kids practiced what we preach, which is playing fundamental baseball and not giving up extra outs--that was the biggest thing," said Verde Valley head coach Pete Kelly.
Verde Valley beat Prescott North last Friday and had four days off until the championship. Rest isn't always an advantage.
"We were concerned about the layoff coming into the championship game--us coaches were just talking about that--Camp Verde had to fight very hard to get to the championship game and they had momentum. For us, we were a little off in practice and we didn't start this game with the intensity we had in some of the other games. It took our guys a little time to get going, but give Camp Verde credit--they were able to hang in there for half the game until we were able to bust it open," said Kelly.
Of course Camp Verde would rather have the banner than credit, but just making it to the championship game the way they did was a feat in itself.
"We just had to take it one game at a time. Most of those games we won big--we put a lot of runs on the board. We just knew we had to play the kind of baseball that we know how to play. We were fundamental and we hit the ball. Day after day, winning five games in a row was really impressive and I'm proud of what our guys did," said Young.
Camp Verde and Verde Valley players know each other pretty well by now--they play against each other in the regular season and also play each other a lot in All Stars. Last year a Pete Kelly coached 10-11 year old team beat a Spencer Young coached team in the district championship game. A lot of good baseball players on both teams fuel a natural rivalry between cross-valley communities.
"This rivalry is what makes sports in a small town fun. You see the same kids year after year. These kids all know each others' names and they'll continue to play each other through high school," said Young. He later added, "The point of the district tournament is to find the best team in our district and send them to state. Verde Valley is the best team in District 10 and I want to congratulate them on a great tournament."
Verde Valley's deep roster has players capable of playing multiple positions at a high level and they showed it in the district tournament. They did it without Jose Pacheco, a very good pitcher who was out with a wrist injury. He's supposed to get his cast off and Verde Valley might get him back for the state tournament that starts next week in Tucson.
"We can win at state. Obviously we'll face all the best teams that won their districts, but we have a lot of great talent in our district. We had to fight hard to win District 10, and it just comes down to if we can execute our game plan," said Kelly.
*Last year Prescott Valley hosted the D-10 Majors All Star Tournament and similarly went undefeated.
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