Nationals beat Americans in a thriller
They score two runs in the bottom of sixth for victory
The Carson National and Carson American All-Star Teams played a game for the ages in the semifinals of the 11-12-year-old Hooligans Tournament.
“One for the ages,” said Carson National coach Jim Blueberg. The Nationals came back for a dramatic 5-4 win when Nevin Elliott hit a walkoff, two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning on Wednesday at Gardnerville’s Aspen Park. The Nationals advanced to play Washoe in the championship game at 8 p.m. today.
“The best Little League game I’ve ever been a part of,” Blueberg said. “I think it was the most incredible moment in Little League Baseball I’ve witnessed between friends. It just brought out the best in all the kids.”
There were two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the sixth when Josiah Pongasi reached on a single. The Americans then decided to intentionally walk one of the Nationals’ top sluggers in T.J. Thomsen.
But for the first time in the tournament the Nationals decided to bat Elliott behind Thomsen in the lineup. The move paid off as Elliott hit a shot to the left centerfield gap. Thomsen was able to score from first on a play at the plate for the winning run.
The Americans were able to jump on Pongasi for three runs in the first. That’s when the Nationals turned to its ace in Thomsen and the game turned into a pitchers duel between two of the hardest throwers in the district as Blueberg put it between Thomsen and Luke Maher. Thomsen finished with nine strikeouts before he reached the limit of 85 pitches in the sixth.
Maher struck out seven before being pulled in the fifth after throwing 73 pitches. He left with a 3-1 lead.
The Nationals scored in the second when Alex Borgman walked and Chase Blueberg eventually scored on a wild pitch. In the fifth, Thomsen walked, Elliott doubled and Kyle Steele hit a two-run single as the Nationals tied the score 3-3.
The Americans took a 4-3 lead on Ben Allbritten’s hit. But then came another big moment in the game when winning pitcher Nate Cotreneo relieved Thomsen. After Cotreneo issued a walk to load the bases, he struck out one of the Americans’ top sluggers in Jace Zampirro on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. “That was the game-saving moment,” coach Blueberg said.
“Awesome game,” American coach Jim Andrews said. “I’m just proud of the kids. They battled. It was a great game to watch. It was a great game on both sides.”
Pongasi was 2-for-3 and Steele and Contreneo each added a hit for the Nationals. Allbritten had two hits, including a double, Maher had two hits and Chaz Nystrom and Zampirro each added a hit for the Americans.
Zak Harges, who was the tough luck loser on the mound, also had two hits. “He threw really well,” said coach Blueberg of Harges. “We just got a couple of breaks.”
Against Washoe, the Nationals will take on a team that hit seven home runs on its way to a 13-2 win over Reno National in the other semifinal. Washoe also beat Carson American 11-10.
“We’re a little shaky in pitching,” coach Blueberg said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to outslug them.”