Pitching in the sixth inning of the biggest game of the year, Yuma Boys Baseball League All-Stars' Andres Cota forced a one-out ground ball up the middle.
Shortstop Eddie Morales swooped over to field it, stepped on second base before throwing it to first baseman Jaiden Haddock for a double play.
And with that, the Yuma All-Stars became state champions.
The 6-3 double play finished an 8-0 victory over RAMMS out of Phoenix in the 12U Cal Ripken Baseball State Tournament and capped a three-game stretch for the team made up of the best players of the Yuma Boys Baseball League.
“I knew (Eddie) could get it because I had a good defense behind me. When he got it and turned two, I was so happy,” said Cota, who threw the last three innings and hit a three-run home run to be named the tournament's MVP.
“I was just hoping I could get the double play so that we could win,” said Morales, who threw three scoreless innings to start the game. “It was cool because we know we have talent here in Yuma but nobody believes it — but we do.”
The Yuma All-Stars now head to the 12U Cal Ripken Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament from July 22-27 in Bakersfield, Calif.
Yuma was riding a wave of momentum that came from the previous game, which coach Omar Morales called the unofficial state championship game.
In the fourth inning of the game against Surprise, Yuma found itself in a dire situation — trailing 6-0 with two outs.
Then, out of nowhere, it caught fire.
Alexis Jimenez hit a triple to right center to jump start a huge rally and Yuma eventually won 7-6 in the six-inning game.
“In the fourth inning, we were going to do our subs because we thought down but the kids came together and motivated each other,” Omar Morales said. “The win kept the kids' confidence up. To be down 6-0 and come back and win 7-6, the kids were fired up for the championship game.”
“I didn't know if we could do it but I had faith in my team,” Eddie Morales said. “Right after that first run, we just kept going and going. The other team thought they had it in the bag.”
Considering the team consists of players from all over the YBBL, Morales had a two-week span to prepare for the start of the state tournament. He said he put the players through team-building drills and after a brief stretch, the Yuma All-Stars were starting to click.
“They came together as a team and that's what's the most important,” he said. “A lot of people judged us because we're young coaches — we're both 25. But we made a statement with these boys. There's a lot of potential here in Yuma.”