Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera American Little League pitcher Benji Molina picks up the win during a 2-1 victory Monday over Madera National in the District 10 All-Star Tournament.
A trio of Madera American Little League 11-12-year-old All-Star team pitchers made a two-run first inning home run stand up for a 2-1 victory over Madera National Little League in the District 10 quarterfinals.
Monday’s win sent the MALL all-stars into a semifinal game against River Park. Meanwhile, Madera National will try to get out of the loser’s bracket in the double-elimination tournament with games Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Adam Arias hit an 0-2 pitch over the centerfield fence in the first inning to give Madera American an early 2-0 lead. The trio of Benji Molina, Rafael Velasco and Bryan Malagon kept the lead to advance.
“Our pitching worked out for us because we have everyone available for the next game,” Madera American manager Mike Molina said.
Molina worked 3 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and two hits. Velasco worked an inning before he ran into trouble and allowed an unearned run.
Malagon earned the save with 1 1/3 perfect innings and three strikeouts.
“Bryan is our No. 1 starter,” Molina said. “It was nice to have him. We saved him the other day just in case. He came in and shut them down. I knew he could hit his spots in the huge strike zone.”
The Madera National pitching of Tyler Zamora and Sebastian Millan held Madera American to just two hits. However one of those hits was the two-run home run. Zamora tossed 5 1/3 innings of one-hit ball. He struck out 10 and walked two. Millan allowed a hit, walked two, but got out of trouble in 2/3 innings.
“That was the plan to let him go as far as he could with the way our rotation is working out,” Madera National manager Ray Hix said. “It still worked for us.”
Along with Arias, Malagon was the only other Madera American hitter with a hit. Madera American left just three runners on base — all in the sixth inning — while Madera National threatened, but stranded seven. Gilbert Moisa, Chris Diaz and Timmy Nino had the hits for Madera National.
“We’ve been teaching the kids for years how to hit the outside pitch,” Molina said. “The umpire was calling those pitches way outside, but our kids should be able to hit it. The other team did a better job of putting the bat on the ball and getting on base than we did. We got out of it, though.”
“I’m super proud of them,” Hix said. “They just didn’t come up with the timely hit when we had several opportunities.”
With one out in the top of the fourth, Molina drew a four-pitch walk. After a strikeout, Arias fell behind 0-2, but hit the next pitch over the centerfield scoreboard for a monstrous home run.
“It was supposed to be an inside pitch,” Hix said. “He (Zamora) knows it. That’s baseball.”
Zamora walked the next batter, but he was retired trying to steal second. From there, Zamora retired the next 13 batters in a row before he left the game because he reached the 85-pitch limit.
Madera National had its first threat in the third when Gilbert Moisa singled with two outs. Chris Diaz drew a walk to put two on, but a popout ended the threat.
Madera National got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning. After Ricky Palacioz reached on an error, Cody Diebert forced him at second on a ball that looked to have been hit off of Diebert’s foot, which would have resulted in a foul ball and a full count with no one out.
After a popout, Rodriguez singled to center and Diebert scampered to third while Rodriguez went to second on the throw.
On the second pitch to Zamora, pinch-runner Andrew Rodriguez scored on a wild pitch to cut Madera National’s lead to one. Zamora drew a walk to put runners at first and third with two outs.
Molina called on Malagon to close the door and he struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Malagon struck out two in the sixth in between a hit batter and got a lineout to Jordan Hernandez at first to end the game with a 2-1 victory and the save.