Arcadia and North Scottsdale remain undefeated in tournament

McCormick Ranch's Cade Fretz sends a pitch toward home plate where Fountain Hills' Tyler Grieco is waiting. (By Justin Maskulinski)

McCormick Ranch’s Cade Fretz sends a pitch toward home plate where Fountain Hills’ Tyler Grieco is waiting. (By Justin Maskulinski)

All three games of the Arizona District 6 Little League Tournament in Scottsdale on Wednesday ended by mercy-rule as the winning teams overpowered their opponents.

McCormick Ranch (1-2), Arcadia (3-0) and North Scottsdale (3-0) all won on the second-to-last night of pool play and Fountain Hills (1-2), East Scottsdale (0-4) and McDowell Mountain (1-2) fell short as host Mountain View (2-1) was idle.

For an updated bracket and remaining schedule visit the District 6 website—(http://www.eteamz.com/AZ6LL/news/index.cfm?cat=301269)

Game 1: McCormick Ranch 14, Fountain Hills 3

The McCormick Ranch Bulls jumped on Fountain Hills early and cruised to a four-inning victory behind solid pitching from Cade Fretz. Cade pitched three innings and allowed five hits and one run while striking out two.

Cade also had a solid night at the plate as he went 3-4, hitting two singles and one home run to left field. He finished the night with three runs batted in.

“I hit with my coach at Scottsdale batting cages and he just told me to relax in the batter’s box,” Cade said. “That’s what I did today.”

The Bulls scored eight runs in the top of the first inning as their entire batting order took swings. The first run of the inning was batted in by Mason Thomas as his grounder plated Mason Birkett and got the ball rolling.

“We were focused and everyone was hitting the ball well,” Mason Thomas said. “We concentrated at the plate and we were patient.”

Fountain Hills responded with one run in the bottom of the first, but runs were hard to come by, as McCormick Ranch’s defense played a solid game.

The Bulls’ shortstop Jack Gleason made two great throws in the infield during the second inning to prevent Fountain Hills’ batters from reaching first base, and in the third inning he tracked down a fly ball in shallow left field to record an out.

Jack had a spectacular night at the plate as well, going 4-4 with two triples, one double, one single and three RBI’s.

After Cade Fretz’s night was over on the mound, Spencer Thomas closed out the game for the Bulls, allowing one hit and striking out two as the Fountain Hills comeback attempt fell short.

Spencer says the Bulls need to keep the hitting going in Thursday’s matchup against McDowell Mountain.

“The first two games we were hitting well and in this game we got 14 runs and that’s really good,” he said. “We need to bring that momentum to the next game.”

After two losses to open the tournament, the Bulls now have a chance to make it out of pool play.

“The first couple games we were pretty nervous,” McCormick Ranch manager Todd Thomas said. “Today in our pregame we really just focused on what our immediate task was. The boys really took that to heart and they went to the plate focused.”

Thanks to North Scottsdale’s Wednesday night victory over McDowell Mountain, McCormick Ranch controls its own destiny heading into the final day of pool play.

“It’s up to us,” Mr. Thomas said. “We think we have a really good team so we like our chances and if we come out focused and relaxed like they did today, I really like our chances.”

Game 2: Arcadia 19, East Scottsdale 1

At the end of one inning, the game was very much in reach for East Scottsdale as they trailed 3-1. In the top half of the second inning, Arcadia piled on 16 runs to put the game out of reach.

Arcadia had three home runs in the half-inning— two balls left the park while one stayed in.

The balls that flew over the fence were both two-run homers courtesy of Crew Edwards and Ryan Spier. The ball that stayed in was a sharp grounder down the right foul line from hit by Wyatt Carwitz that turned into a three-run-inside-the-park-home run.

“I think it just came from a lot of the working out in the field in practice,” Wyatt said of Arcadia’s offensive explosion. “I think half of it is practicing and half of it is actually mentally in the game.”

Arcadia spent most of the third and fourth inning laying down bunts and swinging at anything that was close to the strike zone as they were trying not to run up the score on their opponent.

McCormick Ranch during the Little League Pledge . (By Justin Maskulinski)

McCormick Ranch during the Little League Pledge . (By Justin Maskulinski)

“When it really got out of hand, we just said we wanted to handle ourselves with class. We didn’t want to embarrass anybody or have anyone get hurt,” Arcadia manager Jeff Wasson said. “It’s just as hard being in our dugout as their dugout. The kids could get out of control quickly.”

East Scottsdale finished the tournament winless, but manager Carmen Simpson was happy with her team’s progress through the four games.

“I told them just to have fun. It’s an experience, it’s not about wins or losses,” Ms. Simpson said. “It’s about learning the game, and they’ve done better. We actually scored a run in each of our last two games. So, baby steps, but it was there. Hopefully our league will flourish now.”

Ms. Simpson says the East Scottsdale Little League is smaller than most of the other participants at the District 6 tournament, but its younger age groups had a lot of participation last year.

Arcadia now sits alone in first place at 3-0 thanks to its tournament leading runs-allowed ratio, which is calculated by taking the total number of runs allowed divided by the number of half-innings played on defense.

Mr. Wasson says he will have his players ready for their final game of pool play and what lies ahead.

“I just told them, ‘Now the tournament starts,’” he said. “We are fully aware of what pitching is out there and what we’ll see. We’ve got to focus back up and come out here and play hard tomorrow night.”

Wyatt says Arcadia will be locked-in for their Thursday match up with Mountain View.

“I think that’s definitely going to be one of our hardest games,” Wyatt said. “We do a pretty good job of staying focused; we just need to bring it to them tomorrow.”

Game 3: North Scottsdale 11, McDowell Mountain 1

North Scottsdale pulled away from McDowell Mountain in the fourth inning and capitalized on solid pitching from Easton Lay, North Scottsdale’s only 11-year-old.

Easton pitched four innings and allowed just one run as his team moved to 3-0 overall.

“I felt good,” Easton said. “When your team scores runs, it takes the weight off of your shoulders and you just have to throw strikes.”

Through three innings, the game was still tight as North Scottsdale held on to a 3-1 lead. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Sebastian Mentis began a streak of hits that included a two-run homerun off the bat of Ryan Klotnia.

After the fourth inning, the Rocketmen led 8-1. They added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth and the game was ended because of the mercy rule.

North Scottsdale manager Paul Klotnia is happy with his team’s 3-0 start.

“They’re playing well. The pitching has been really good, the hitting has been timely and the defense has been solid,” he said.

Mr. Klotnia does not think keeping his team focused on Thursday will be an issue.

“They want to go undefeated,” he said.

Thursday is the final day of pool play, here are the matchups:

  • North Scottsdale vs Fountain Hills, 5:30 p.m.
  • McCormick Ranch vs McDowell Mountain, 7:00 p.m.
  • Mountain View vs Arcadia, 7:30 p.m.

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