By CHACE BRYSON | Editor
Aaron Solis had a pretty memorable first day as a teenager.
The left-handed pitcher of Nogales National Little League was handed the ball for his 13th birthday “” in the U.S. bracket semifinal of the Intermediate Little League World Series on Aug. 1 “” and he came through in a big way. Solis led the West Region All-Stars from Arizona with 5.1 dominant innings.
Solis allowed just four hits, struck out 10 and walked one as the West advanced to the Aug. 3 U.S. Championship game by beating the East Region 4-1.
“I knew that I had my teammates behind me,” Solis said. “I was a little bit nervous, but I had to get through it and I knew that I had to win this for my team.”
It’s the second straight year that Nogales National has represented the West Region at the Intermediate World Series. The second trip has gone much better than the first did. In the league’s first trip to Livermore, they opened the tournament with back-to-back losses before salvaging a win in a consolation game against Latin America.
This year has gone much different. The West All-Stars rolled to a five-inning 13-2 win over the Southeast (West Virginia) in their opener on July 30 and never trailed in their semifinal win over the East (Maryland).
Nogales opened a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Dustin Bermudez singled, stole second and third before scoring on a wild pitch. Jorge Bojorquez drew a one-out walk and later scored on a single by Cesar Martinez.
That would be enough for Solis, who had just a single hiccup in surrendering a long home run to Tristan McDonough leading off the second inning.
“The umpire was calling it down, so I was trying to throw it down,” Solis said. “My catcher, told me to throw it up, and that’s when the home run came. … We just started laughing because we knew that it was a mistake, and when we went to the dugout (after the inning) we were just like, “˜Let’s keep it down low.”
The West’s lead stayed 2-1 until the fourth when Bojorquez hit a one-out solo home run. Mario Duarte followed the long ball by drawing a walk, stealing second and third, and then scoring on another base hit from Martinez.
“It was a great win,” Nogales coach Jorge Guerrero said, “and we’re in the (U.S.) championship. What can I say? … We knew we’d have a hard time with this team. But we got some opportune hits and Bojorquez’s home run helped out a lot.”
The East has a chance to earn a rematch in the U.S. final if it can defeat the Southwest All-Stars of Midland, Texas, in a 7 p.m. game on Aug. 2.
PUERTO RICO ADVANCES TO INTL. FINAL: For the second straight year, Puerto Rico will be represented in the International Championship of the Intermediate Little League World Series. And this time, they’ll be the favorite.
The All-Stars from San Lorenzo, PR, punched its ticket to the International final with a 6-4 win over Latin America (Curacao) on Aug. 1. Puerto Rico never trailed in the game, taking advantage of three errors to score three run in the bottom of the first.
Latin America would get as close as 4-3 after three innings, but Puerto Rico pitcher Tommylee Sierra buckled down held off the gritty group from Caribbean.
Sierra pitched a complete game, striking out nine and walking just one.
Puerto Rico’s offense was led by Leonardo Lizardi. His 2-run single in the bottom of the fourth proved to be the difference in the game. Puerto Rico will play the winner of the Aug. 2 elimination game between Latin America and Asia-Pacific (South Korea).
SportStars Magazine: High School Sports Articles Online SportStars is your go-to source for the very best high school sports articles in California. Player and team profiles, game coverage, health and fitness tips and the largest Camps, Clinics & Combine resource for athletes. We're the story behind the stats.