Yucaipa Valley American Little League manager Jeff Scott missed his team’s 11-1 victory against Twentynine Palms on Saturday, July 10, because of vacation. But it was OK because acting manager Rob Eland did just fine in making sure the boys touched home plate on every run and smiled for photos after the game.
In the end the Yucaipa majors team (ages 9-12) emerged with a District 58 championship and a trip to the sectionals in Corona.
“We had very good competition, but we put the bat on the ball and had excellent pitching,” Eland said.
Brayden Juarez allowed just two hits and struck out 13 to lead Yucaipa. He threw four-seam fastballs and curves.
“My curveball was good today,” Juarez said. “I learned how to throw it by watching baseball videos.”
Jaurez said his team’s eight-run first inning had no impact on him.
“I always pitch as if we’re losing,” he said.
Brandon McKenzie led Yucaipa at the plate with two doubles, a single and two runs batted in. His double was one of only four hits in Yucaipa’s big first-inning rally. Twentynine Palms walked four hitters in the inning, hit another and made an error.
Eland was pleased with the play of McKenzie.
“Brandon is a solid player who plays a great third base and his bat has come alive,” Eland said.
Juarez, McKenzie, Andrew Avila, Maverick Avila, Dallas Dixon, Grant Divers, Jake Eland and Trevor Scott all had runs batted in during the first inning. Juarez, McKenzie, Eland and Trevor Scott’s RBI came on hits.
Yucaipa Valley American scored three runs in the fifth inning to enact the 10-run rule and end the game. An RBI single by McKenzie and a run-scoring double by Shane Valdez put an end to it.
Twentynine Palms pitchers had difficulty throwing strikes, walking seven batters and hitting three.