Arcadia takes Game 1 of Scottsdale Little League tournament as Wheeler deals

The teams lined up prior to Game 1 of the Arizona District 6 Little League Tournament. North Scottsdale in blue and Arcadia in red. (Independent Newsmedia/Justin Maskulinski)

The teams lined up prior to Game 1 of the Arizona District 6 Little League Tournament. North Scottsdale in blue and Arcadia in red. (Independent Newsmedia/Justin Maskulinski)

Game 1 of the Arizona District 6 Little League Championship between 1-seed Arcadia and 2-seed North Scottsdale was much anticipated, as both teams seemed destined to meet in the championship from early on in pool play through the tournament.

Arcadia won Game 1 on Wednesday night 13-3 in five innings behind plentiful offense and pitcher Scotty Wheeler’s second complete game of the tournament.

“I was just mixing them up with my off-speed pitches and hitting my spots and we played good defense,” Scotty said.

North Scottsdale's Nolan Lopez watched a pitch from Arcadia's Scotty Wheeler come in high. (Independent Newsmedia/Justin Maskulinski)

North Scottsdale’s Nolan Lopez watched a pitch from Arcadia’s Scotty Wheeler come in high. (Independent Newsmedia/Justin Maskulinski)

Arcadia was unable to score during its at-bats in the top of the first inning as Scotty recorded the only hit of the half-inning for his team with a grounder up the middle.

North Scottsdale only had four at-bats in the bottom of the first frame, but the Rocketmen made good use of their opportunities. After two straight outs to open the bottom of the first, center fielder Ryan Klotnia reached base with a ground ball to left field and later scored after an errant throw from the outfield on a hit by Cole Burleson. Cole rounded second and was caught in a pickle and tagged out to end the inning.

Arcadia was able to answer in the top of the second inning as right fielder Kellen Slade batted in catcher Wyatt Carwitz to tie the game at one. North Scottsdale was held scoreless in the bottom of the second and the game was locked at one apiece heading into the third.

Arcadia found its rhythm in the top of the third as it batted around the order and piled on six runs. The highlight of the inning was a Kellen Slade three-run home run to right-center field.

“I think it gave the team more confidence,” Kellen said of his home run.

The home run, which flew out of the park very quickly, scored Wyatt Carwitz and Jacob Lara. Kellen finished the game 3-4 with a single, double, home run and four RBIs.

Jacob also had a big third inning, as he drove in two runs with a double to left-center field during his at-bat, right before Kellen’s home run.

Acadia held the Rocketmen scoreless in the bottom of the third, as Scotty sat down the batters in order. The first batter, third baseman Matthew Graf, reached first base after hitting a grounder. The second batter, right fielder Sebastian Mentis, sent a grounder back to Scotty who tossed it to second to start a double play.

Nixon Nolan struck out two of the four Arcadia batters he pitched to in the top of the fourth inning and forced another to fly out to center field as Arcadia was held scoreless in the half-inning.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Rocketmen chipped away at the Arcadia lead, scoring two runs. A Jackson Holmes hit one-hopped over the left-center fence for a ground-rule double that scored Ryan Klotnia, who went 2-2 with two singles and two runs scored.

“I was just getting as close to the plate as I could with still having some distance to cover the inside and just watching the ball,” Ryan said.

Later in the bottom of the fourth inning, second baseman Tony Gibson doubled to right-center to score Jackson.

Arcadia entered the top of the fifth inning clinging to a four-run lead, and they left the half-inning with a ten-run lead.

Catcher Ryan Spier led the inning off with a grounder to left field. A Kellen Slade grounder up the middle moved Ryan to second. Kellen and Ryan stole second and third base, respectively, on a wild pitch. Ryan stole home on a wild pitch as well.

The score was 10-3 in favor of Arcadia when Crew Edwards stepped up to the plate with two runners on base. Crew crushed a ball to left-center field for a three-run homerun that gave Arcadia the all-important 10-run lead.

“Crew’s homerun was a shot,” Kellen said. “As soon as that was hit I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, there it goes.’”

Crew finished the game 2-3 with a single, homerun and four RBIs.

Scotty Wheeler ended the game in the bottom of the fifth as he sat down three of the four batters he faced.

“He did what he does best,” Arcadia manager Jeff Wasson said of Scotty. “He keeps people off-balance and he’s always around the zone. He’s got four different pitches and usually two or three of them are working.”

North Scottsdale will be facing elimination tomorrow, so Mr. Wasson knows the Rocketmen will be ready to go.

“They’re going to come out swinging,” he said. “They’re too good of a team to just go away quietly.”

“We need to not have as many ground-outs and less wild pitches,” Ryan said. “If we can avoid that, we’ll be pretty good.”

Arcadia will take the field Thursday night with a chance to win the District 6 Championship, and Mr. Wasson knows it will not be easy.

“You want to close it when you have your opportunities,” Mr. Wasson said. “That’s what we’re setting out to do. It doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the diamond or who’s pitching, we’ve got to come out and do it.”

North Scottsdale manager Paul Klotnia says his players will need to perform well on Thursday if they want to force a Game 3.

“It’s just one game and they’re a good team,” Mr. Klotnia said. “We’ve got to come back and play. We have a plan for (Thursday) so we just have to execute and play well.”

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