Bagdad eliminates Verde Valley in Majors TOC
CHINO VALLEY — Through five innings, Bagdad’s Little League Majors team had been dominating Verde Valley in an opening-round game of the Arizona District 10 Tournament of Champions Friday night, May 31.
Pitcher Mikey Langston was mowing down Verde Valley hitters, helping to stake Bagdad to a 6-0 lead.
And yet despite allowing five runs, none of which were earned, on two hits in the sixth inning, Bagdad held on for a 6-5 victory to eliminate Verde Valley and advance to the semifinal round at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 1, at the Community Center Park ballfields.
Langston finished with a whopping 13 strikeouts, and he allowed only two hits in the first five innings, riding the strength of his fastball. It was the most strikeouts for Langston in a game this season.
“I knew that there was a lot on the line, and I was trying to help my teammates out and just work hard for them and not let them down,” Langston said.
Arizona District 10 Tournament of Champions
Community Center Park Fields, Chino Valley
Game 1: Prescott Valley 14, Prescott 4 (4)
Game 2: Bagdad 6, Verde Valley 5
Game 3: Chino Valley vs. Agua Fria, 9 a.m.
Game 4: Wickenburg vs. Prescott Valley, 11 a.m.
Game 5: Bagdad vs. Winner of Game 3, 1 p.m.
Game 6: Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 5, 2 p.m.
In the sixth, Langston allowed a leadoff single to Xzayvier Buckner and a ground-rule double to Juan Munoz before Bagdad’s fielding started to struggle. Verde Valley scored all five of its runs on four Bagdad fielding errors.
Bagdad Vs Verde Valley Toc
With Bagdad leading 6-4 with one out, manager Dylan Hooper pulled Langston on the pitch-count rule and put in his son, Rowdy Hooper. Rowdy registered consecutive strikeouts to end it, although a wild pitch and an error plated Verde Valley’s fifth and final run with two outs.
“Mikey’s thrown good all season,” manager Hooper said. “We wanted to come in and win our first game. We’re normally the smaller town out here for this tournament. Towards the end of the game there, they got a couple solid hits. It seemed like they took the steam out of it real quick. But Rowdy finished it off pretty well. We’re happy to be moving on.”
Bagdad played Friday’s game with the roster minimum of nine players, but handed Verde Valley, which suited up 12 players, its lone loss of the season. Verde Valley concluded the 2019 campaign with a 12-1 record.
“Our boys haven’t seen pitching like that the whole year,” Verde Valley manager Preston Buckner said of Langston’s effort. “We have no pitchers [in Cottonwood] other than a couple on my team that pitch like that in our league. It was tough on them early. But they saw him a couple times and finally they were able to get around on him.”
Offensively, Bagdad plated its six runs on five hits, all singles. Of those six runs, two were unearned. Bagdad scored five of its runs on two errors, two wild pitches and a passed ball. Rowdy Hooper’s RBI groundout accounted for the other run.
Joey Kirchoff (single), Aaron Landers (infield single), Ezra Aguilar (single), Langston (single) and Mike Pierce (single) accounted for Bagdad’s hits.
At the dish for Verde Valley, in addition to Buckner and Munoz’s hits, Ezra Kubrock ripped a double and Derek Alvarez had a single. Verde Valley compiled four total hits.
“I’m still super proud of my boys,” manager Buckner said.
Bagdad meets the winner of the opening-round game pitting Chino Valley against Agua Fria, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. today, June 1, in the semifinals at 1 p.m.
Prescott Valley, which eliminated Prescott, 14-4, in four innings on Friday, faces Wickenburg in the other semifinal at 11 a.m. Saturday. The championship game is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, June 2.
All games will be played at the Community Center Park ballfields at the corner of Perkinsville Road and Road 1 East in Chino Valley.
Doug Cook is a reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.