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Tijuana's Reyes shuts down Ensenada in title game
Santa Cruz de Tijuana needed a dramatic finish in extra innings to win its Cecil Fielder Elite World Series semifinal.
In the championship, there was no need for additional play. Santa Cruz de Tijuana's starting pitcher Bernardo Reyes made sure of it.
After jumping on the scoreboard early, Reyes dominated Ensenada Mexico for five innings and Santa Cruz took home the title with a 5-2 victory Monday afternoon at Desert Sun Stadium.
Reyes allowed two hits and struck out six and reached into the low 90s on his fastball. Both Ensenada runs came when Reyes was pulled because of an inning limit.
“He's going to be one,” Fielder said of Reyes. “He's going to get a shot to play and get drafted. I really think he'll get a shot to play some pro ball.”
In Santa Cruz's 7-6 victory over I.V.B.N. in eight innings in the semifinals, Reyes pitched the final two frames and according to international rules, a pitcher can throw only seven innings a day. Regardless of closing out the semifinal, Santa Cruz manager Gustavo Niebla decided to go with his 17-year-old ace to start the championship.
“It's a very hard decision just based on the little time we had in between. But we kept him loose and he felt good,” Niebla said.
The Santa Cruz offense provided their end of the bargain early against Ensenada.
In the top of the first, they chased Ensenada starting pitcher Jorge Avina after he recorded only two outs — and after Santa Cruz had built a 4-0 lead. Santa Cruz catcher Jose Garcia doubled to deep left-center to score Daniel Valenzuela and Juan Villalvazo, who was named the tournament's best hitter, followed with an RBI double of his own. Three batters later, Paul Osuna hit a 2-run single through the right side.
With the way Reyes was pitching, four runs seemed like it would be more than enough. The hard-throwing right-hander from San Luis Rio Colorado struck out two batters in each of the first three innings and needed just 18 pitches to cruise through the fourth and fifth.
“I had to keep the ball low and concentrate on what pitch to throw to the right batters,” said Reyes, who was named the tournament's best pitcher.
Santa Cruz tacked on another run in the top of the sixth that was helped by a throwing error by Ensenada third baseman Martin Perez Jr., a rare blunder from the player who was named the tournament's best fielder.
With Reyes forced off the mound because of the international rules, Ensenada finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth. After Jorge Rodriguez hit three Ensenada batters, left-handed Ramiro Gallegos relieved him with the bases loaded and one out.
Gallegos struck out the first batter and walked in a run on the next before striking out Martin Rendon to end the threat.
“Knowing Ramiro, he comes in cool, calm and collected,” Niebla said of Gallegos. “Nothing fazes him. He'll throw strikes. He did his job.”
Ensenada made a last-ditch effort in the bottom of the seventh and got a run by an RBI groundout by Oziel Verdugo, but Gallegos got Jesus Cerda to line out to short to cue the Santa Cruz celebration on the field.
“I picked Tijuana to win the tournament from the first day,” Fielder said.
With the 18U portion of the tournament over, the 16U and 14U teams begin pool play on Thursday. The city of Yuma is represented by the Yankees at 16U and the Blitz and Crush at 14U.
With teams from all over for the 18U teams, including two teams from Mexico in the championship, Fielder said it allowed teams to face different styles of play.
“That's great because out of the 19 teams to play this week, the two Mexico teams made it to the finals,” Fielder said. “I like the fact that we get teams from Mexico to play because it gives our kids from the United States a chance to play international teams and vice versa.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.