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Missed opportunities doom Diablos
So Cal Elite 2, So Cal Rangers 0
So Cal Birds 7, Suenos Dorado Baseball Academy 5
H.D.B.A. 11, LA Metro Blue Jackets 0
CBATs Elite 15, San Diego Turbos 0
Ensenada Mexico 10, I.V.B.N. 0
I.V.B.N. 2, Tucson Show 1
Ensenada Mexico 1, Tucson Show 0
H.D.B.A. 3, Murrieta Valley Hurricanes 1
Suenos Dorado Baseball Academy 2, Long Beach Performance 1
Long Beach Performance 11, So Cal Rangers 3
So Cal Birds 11, Ca. Arsenal 0
So Cal Elite 7, Ca. Arsenal 5
Murrieta Valley Hurricanes 9, San Diego Turbos 0
Buzitos de Mexicali 9, Yuma Diablos 8 (8)
California Smash 4, Equipo San Cruz Tijuana 3
Equipo San Cruz Tijuana 4, Yuma Diablos 1
Team Booom TX 11, LA Metro Blue Jackets 1
Team Booom TX 2, CBATs Elite 1
Buzitos De Mexicali 5, California Smash 1
Yuma Diablos vs. I.V.B.N., 9 a.m., Desert Sun Stadium
Team Booom TX vs. So Cal Elite, 9 a.m., Ray Kroc 3
Tucson Show vs. H.D.B.A., 9 a.m., Ray Kroc 2
Long Beach Performance vs. Equipo San Cruz Tijuana, 9 a.m., Ray Kroc 1
Ensenada Mexico vs. Game 2 winner, 11:45 a.m., Ray Kroc 1
So Cal Birds vs. Game 1 winner, 11:45 a.m., Ray Kroc 2
Buzitos de Mexicali vs. Game 4 winner, 11:45 a.m., Ray Kroc 1
Murrieta Valley Hurricanes vs. Game 3 winner, 11:45 a.m., Desert Sun Stadium
Getting runners on base wasn't a problem for the Yuma Diablos on Saturday afternoon.
Coming up with the big hit to score them was a different story.
Santa Cruz de Tijuana managed to escape jam after jam and beat the Diablos 4-1 in the final pool play game of the Cecil Fielder Elite World Series at Yuma Catholic.
The Diablos had the bases loaded in the third and fifth inning and runners on second and third in the fourth but couldn't find a way to come up with a timely hit off Santa Cruz de Tijuana pitcher Paul Osuna.
“We had a lot of people in scoring position, but for some reason we just couldn't get that clutch at bat that we really needed,” said Diablos center fielder Matt Higgins, who went 2 for 3 with the team's only run of the day.
However, Santa Cruz de Tijuana found a way to come up with key hits when they needed to – including two runs in the bottom of the fifth with two outs.
“My pitcher missed a couple targets and got the guys on base and they made the clutch hits, which we need to do,” Diablos coach Faron Owl said.
Josh Morales pitched the entire game for the Diablos allowing four runs on six hits and four walks while striking out four. Osuna picked up the win after five innings of work, scattering four hits and walking two.
Santa Cruz de Tijuana loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the second and Armando Valenica scored on a ground out to third by Gustavo Niebla. On the following batter, Louie Blanco scored on a passed ball to put them ahead 2-0.
Then came three straight innings where the Diablos couldn't take advantage of plenty of opportunities.
They loaded the bases in the top of the third after singles by Michael Sapp and Higgins and Matthew Valdez getting hit by a pitch. However, Irving Lopez popped up to short and Oscar (Elizarras) grounded out to third. In the fourth, with runners on second and third and two outs, Sapp popped up to second base.
The Diablos loaded the bases again in the fifth with two outs, but this time got a run when Bobby Mena drew a walk. That would be all they could get and Danny Flores flew out to left to end the threat.
“Breaks aren't going our way, but at the same time we're not getting the clutch hitting we need,” Owl said. “Maybe our focus is off a little bit. We just needed a base hit here and there, but it's just to the point where we have to execute better.”
“(Osuna) wasn't hitting his curveball, but we trust our defense,” Santa Cruz de Tijuana coach Gustavo Niebla said. “They've been playing together for two or three years, and they know each other very well.”
After sending the first two batters down in the bottom of the fifth, Morales eventually surrendered a pair of runs off RBI singles by Jose Garcia and Juan Villalvazo to push Santa Cruz de Tijuana's lead to three.
“It puts our momentum on their side and (we) played their game instead of our game,” Higgins said of the fifth inning.
Alejandro Moreno relieved Osuna in the sixth and allowed a one-out double to left field by Sapp. Valdez followed with a hard line drive to the left side, but Santa Cruz de Tijuana shortstop Cecillio Valenzuela made a magnificent diving catch, then doubled off Sapp at second base.
“I've always liked the way he played short for me, so that's why I put him there,” Niebla said of Valenzuela, who usually plays outfield in Tijuana. “But it was a great catch, he dove and it turned out good. That's only the second double play we've had the entire tournament. It was a great diving catch. Great.”
After opening pool play with an 8-1 win, the Diablos have played four straight games decided by three runs or fewer. They won 4-2 and 2-1 on Friday and lost 9-8 in eight innings to Buzitos de Mexicali on Saturday morning.
“We're sort of used to it, but it keeps us involved in the game and keeps us focused,” Higgins said of the close games.
“It wears on you as a coach and it wears on you as a player because every game is intense and its close and any mistake costs a run. A walk causes a run, an error is a run.” Owl said. “You have to overcome those and that's been our biggest test. We did well for the first three games. Today we were a little sluggish.”
The Diablos finished fourth in their pool and play their first bracket game against Imperial Valley Baseball at 9 a.m. at Desert Sun Stadium. The tournament concludes Monday.
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.