The Briarwood Diamondbacks came ready to drop anchor against the Pirates in the opening game of the major division playoffs at Briarwood Little League on Tuesday afternoon. D-backs starting pitcher Josh Porda struck out the final two batters of the top of the first inning to strand runners at second and third without allowing a run.
In the bottom of the first, the D-backs offense got to work immediately. Leadoff man Vaughn Sanchez launched a triple into the right-center field gap. Sanchez would then score when Mason Stewart followed up with a bloop single to right field.
Two batters later Porda would double home Stewart with an opposite-field, line drive double down the right-field line. That made the score 2-0. Next up was Evan Filipe who knocked Porda home with a bloop single into shallow left field, increasing the advantage to 3-0 before the Pirates finally got out of the inning.
After striking out another pair of batters in the top of the second, the D-backs elected to lift Porda from the mound to save him for future games due to Little League pitch count rules. It was certainly a gutsy move from Head Coach Josh Porda Sr. While the D-backs would add three more runs in the third to take a 6-0 lead, the Pirates got back in the game with a three-run top of the fourth.
Theo Shipp smoked a stand-up triple down the right-field line to lead things off. Jonathan Adame knocked Shipp home with a soft line drive single to left. Nathan Bustoz walked, Remie Fierro was hit by a pitch to load the bases for sibling Kiegan Fierro, who likewise would be hit by a pitch, but Kiegan got an RBI out of it to pull the Pirates within 6-2.
Cruz Daily followed suit with a walk with the bases loaded and it was 6-3. Unfortunately for Pirates fans, that’s the last run they would score. The D-backs would tack on four more runs in the final two innings, including an inside-the-park home run to right-center field by Sanchez.
“I knew I was going to be able to score right off the crack of the bat,” beamed a giddy Sanchez after the game. “I was just looking for a strike and when I saw it was in the gap I was just running my hardest and when I was rounding third, coach sent me.”
Both Porda and Sanchez acknowledged being especially happy to beat the Pirates, who have been the Briarwood Major Division Champions five straight seasons.
“Kinda, yeah” confirmed Porda on being a little extra sweet to beat the Pirates. “Last year, I was on that team and we made it to TOCs.”
“Yeah that felt really good,” added Vaughn. “Last season I pitched against them in the championship and they beat us by a lot so it feels good to beat them back.”
The D-backs might have to beat the Pirates once more in order to win the championship. With the victory, the D-backs move into the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament. If the Pirates work their way out of the loser’s bracket, there could potentially be two more games between the two teams to decide the champion.