BANGS — A pair of hustling efforts proved to be the difference as the Presidio Rangers fought off the Colorado City Astros, 4-3, to capture the TTAB 9U State Championship Friday night at the Bangs Sports Complex.
First, knotted at 3 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Presidio’s Luis Aguilar drew a leadoff walk against Colorado City pitcher Jonathan Sanford, and advanced to third base on a pair of passed balls. With one out, Alan Valenzuela laid down a bunt in front of the plate and Astro catcher Maddix Salazar fired to first base for the second out, but Aguilar beat the throw from Jadis Cato back home to push the Rangers in front, 4-3.
In the top of the sixth, still clinging to a one-run lead, Presidio relief pitcher Sebastian Rios surrendered a leadoff infield single to Sanford and a two-out infield hit to Jordan Garza. With two outs, Salazar hit a grounder that got through the glove of Presidio first baseman Martin Baeza, but second baseman Sebastian Franco was backing up the play, scooped up the loose ball and outran Salazar to first base for the final out.
Scoreless through 2 1/2 innings, the Rangers lit up the scoreboard with three runs in the bottom of the third.
Franco reached on a fielder’s choice, which resulted in the second out, then Jorge Sotelo singled to extend the inning. Rios followed with a line drive into the right field corner, which turned into a three-run, inside-the-park home run.
Colorado City quickly answered in the top of the fourth inning and drew even at 3.
A one-out single by Cato, followed by a walk by Joseph Martinez, set the stage for an RBI single up the middle by Garza. Salazar then delivered a two-RBI double to center field that pulled the Astros even at 3-all. The inning ended when Salazar was caught in a rundown after leading too far off third base, and was eventually tagged out by Aguilar at the plate.
In order to reach Friday’s championship game, Colorado City avenged an earlier loss to Cross Plains, 6-5. Trailing 5-4 heading into their final at-bat, the Astros scored twice to eliminate Cross Plains, which had defeated Colorado City, 2-1, earlier in tournament action.