For a moment at the top of the seventh inning, it looks like the Encinitas Little League All-Stars team could clutch victory from the jaws of defeat, but it wasn’t the case Friday as Encinitas lost to Rutherford County Little League All-Stars team 5-3, ending its historic run in the Junior Little League Baseball World Series in Taylor, Michigan.
With two outs and two on base at the top of the seventh inning, Connor Blough singled on a line drive but Noah Simon, pinch running for Cooper Dulich, was tagged out at second base, ending a possible rally.
“We didn’t take the opportunity to score some base runners,” Encinitas manager Danny Muckley said. “We left a lot of runners on base today. It happens in baseball.”
Encinitas took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning against Rutherford. Jobe Cubillan and Julian Nunez brought in one run each when they were walked with the bases loaded.
North Carolina tied the game up at 2-all in the third inning, with one of the scoring runs as a result of an error by Encinitas. Aidin Strange singled on a ground ball off an error by Nunez that allowed Riley Stanley to score.
Errors, by and large, contributed to Encinitas’ loss. Four of Rutherford’s scoring runs were because of an error. An error by shortstop Nunez allowed two runs in the fourth inning for a Rutherford lead. Another error by catcher Tanner McConlogue in the fifth inning allowed the Southeast champs to add to their lead.
“Our right fielder saw an opportunity to catch a line drive in right field and he went 110 percent because he thought he could get it and make a double play,” Muckley said. “We could have ended a couple of innings earlier but we had a couple of miscues on defense. It was a tough loss.”
Encinitas and Rutherford were supposed to face each other Thursday but the game was canceled because of rain. The rain delay didn’t have an effect on the team’s momentum, Muckley said
With the loss, Encinitas was eliminated from the Junior Little League Baseball World Series. The team has a chance to play against the third-place finisher of the internal pool, Australia, but that has not been decided, Muckley said.
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