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Yuma Blitz come up short in Cecil Fielder final
Yuma Blitz starting pitcher Ramon Miranda dominated on the mound in the championship of the 14U Cecil Fielder Elite World Series.
But as it turned out, So Cal Youth Baseball pitcher Eric Bigani was just a little bit better.
Bigani allowed one hit — and infield bunt in the fifth — over six innings and SCYB took home the title with a 1-0 win Sunday afternoon at Desert Sun Stadium.
“We had an idea and a plan for each hitter, and Eric knew if he went with the plan he'd be good,” SCYB coach Charles Chatman said.
Miranda threw a complete game, scattering five hits and striking out 12. However, two pitches in the dirt — just a pair of the few mistakes Miranda made on the day — ended up leading the only run of the game.
Meanwhile, Bigani didn't allow a base runner until two outs in the fourth inning — when Kevin Avila drew a walk — and didn't give up a hit until the fifth on a bunt from Nikola Reyna that was just out of the reach of a diving Bigani.
“Our bats just turned off,” Blitz coach Jerry Molina said. “That's just part of baseball.”
Bigani hit a lead-off single to start the top of the second inning and pinch-runner Connor Tope advanced to third on two passed balls. Zach Busalacchi followed by hitting a sacrifice fly to left field, and that would be all Bigani needed on the day.
“We talk about in games like that, the big guys stepping up and winning,” Chatman said. “If we get somebody in position, we got to him in.”
SCYB managed to get runners on third base in both the third and fourth inning, but Miranda managed to escape — thanks to a strikeout in the third and a strikeout and fly out in the fourth. Miranda also struck out the side in the first and sixth inning.
“The two mistakes he made, and that was it,” Molina said of Miranda. “It's tough. But I'm not going to blame him because he also kept us in the game. We're here because of him.”
With Bigani over his pitch count after the sixth, Chatman sent Brendan Beck to the mound in the seventh to close and he quickly got the first two batters out. A high fly-ball to the second baseman seemed to be the final out of the game, but an error gave the Blitz new life. Damien Rinehart followed with a single up the middle but Beck slammed the door by striking out Miguel Celena to end the game.
“He probably could have gutted through that last inning, but we had somebody else who could pitch it,” Chatman said about pulling Bigani after six innings.
The win was a little bit of redemption for SCYB. In the two previous games between the teams during the tournament, the Blitz won 11-10 and 5-1.
“We knew we didn't play our best baseball, and we knew we didn't execute well,” Chatman said. “We knew if we played well, we could beat them.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.