Sunnyside’s Damian Lorta did all he could to give his team a chance to advance in the winner’s bracket of the West Regional Little League tournament but it was not enough against Hawaii in a 6-5 loss in eight innings Monday night.
Lorta delivered a two-run home run, struck out eight batters and did not allow a walk or hit in 4 1/3 innings of relief heading into the eighth inning at Houghton Stadium at San Bernardino, Calif.
After Sunnyside’s Jorge Zazueta gave his team a 5-4 lead in the top of the eighth on an RBI double, plating Jordan Mayboca (who was placed at second base to start the inning per extra-inning rules), Hawaii had its game-winning rally.
Hawaii scored on an error after Marley Sebastian started the inning at second base. Bransyn Hong later delivered the game-winning RBI on a single that scored Duke Aloy, who earlier reached on a sacrifice bunt.
Sunnyside, now 8-1 this summer, next plays in an elimination game Tuesday at noon against Nevada.
Sunnyside scored two runs in the top of the second behind an RBI single by Lorta, who went 2 for 4 with three RBIs. Starting pitcher Juan Hernandez started the rally with one out in the inning with a single and he later scored on an error.
Lorta followed with his single to right field, scoring Miguel Siquieros, who earlier reached on an error.
Hernandez, part of Sunnyside’s deep pitching staff that includes Lorta and tall right-hander Izaiah Moraga, was 2 for 2 at the plate and looked strong on the mound until Hawaii rallied for four runs in the fourth.
The runs scored after Hernandez managed to get two outs in the inning. Lorta relieved him and got out of a bases-loaded jam.
Lorta’s two-run home run in the top of the fifth — his team-high fourth of the summer — tied the game at 4. Juan Abril, who opened the inning by reaching first on a hit-by-pitch, scored on Lorta’s blast to center field.
Lorta, a right-hander, then struck out the side in the fifth and sixth innings. He struck out two more in the seventh. He has not allowed an earned run in five games and 14 innings this summer. He has 30 strikeouts and has allowed only two walks.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.