EL CENTRO--The Imperial Little League Junior All-Stars captured the District-22 Junior All-Star Tournament’s consolation championship Saturday night with a 12-2 victory over the El Centro All-Stars at Sunflower Park.
“Everything came together tonight …we 10-run ruled them,” Imperial All-Star manager Joe Chairez, Sr., said. “Our pitcher only struck out one or two but our defense was sharp and they did their part.”
Because the game only went five innings, Imperial Junior All-Star pitcher Cobian Cerda combined with catchers Ryan Gonzales and Gianni Robles to hold down the El Centro All-Star offense.
“We don’t get a lot of strikeouts, so we work on being a defensive team and that takes the stress off of the pitchers,” Chairez said. “It’s what we practice and where we put our emphasis and defense wins us games.”
For Cerda it was his second win of the tournament, the first coming against Brawley on Wednesday, somewhat of a rarity in the Little League pitch-count era.
“Cerda throws strikes, he only walks one or two batters a game and relies on his defense,” Chairez said. “Because we kept him on a low pitch count in his first game, he was able to go the five innings tonight.”
The game was a pitcher's duel for the first few innings between Cerda and El Centro hurler James Duran. Then the Imperial squad’s bats came alive, resulting in a multiple-hit game for Shawn Scheffler, who led Imperial with three hits and drove in three runs.
Imperial received two-hit performances from Ruben Magos, who singled twice and drove in a run, and Joe Chairez, Jr., who singled and doubled, driving in four runs.
”With those guys having multiple-hit games that led the way for us,” Chairez said.
The win advanced Imperial to the first of two possible Junior All-Star Tournament championship games to be played Sunday night against the undefeated Holtville Junior All-Stars at Holtville High.
It will be the second D-22 Junior All-Star Tournament meeting between the two teams, Holtville taking the first meeting by a score of 14-2.
“We bounced back after losing to Holtville and that shows a lot about the boys, and we are seeing them jelling and their communication is getting better in the field,” Chairez said.
District 22 Junior All-Star tournament updates can be found daily in the Imperial Valley Press sports section in print and at ivpressonline.com, and on Facebook. Coverage includes scores, schedules and game stories.