Little League Baseball

Copper Hills wins District 12 50/70 title with another walk-off victory


Copper Hills celebrates its championship (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

The opportunity to win the District 12 Intermediate 50/70 championship series Thursday night against Cactus was placed on the young shoulders of Copper Hills utility player Vaughn Sexton.

The 13-year-old from Sahuarita handled that responsibility like an MVP, which if Little League presented that in these district tournaments, he certainly earned that honor.

“It’s perfect,” Sexton said of his performance. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

This performance is etched in his memory bank from Copper Hills’ 13-12 thrilling win over Cactus for the District 12 Intermediate 50/70 championship at Vista Del Prado Park:

— 5 for 5 at the plate as the leadoff hitter with three RBIs and three runs — including the game-tying RBI in the bottom of the seventh and the game-winning, walk-off run following a wild pitch.

— Seven strikeouts through four innings as Copper Hills’ starting pitcher. He had a 1-2-3 inning in the second, which happened only once Thursday night and three times overall in this series that included 56 runs, 41 hits and 37 walks in 14 innings.

In the three other innings in which Cactus scored, he battled back, quelling rallies by not allowing the last 14 batters combined in those innings to score. He ended the fourth inning retiring three straight batters, two by strikeouts, after Cactus earlier rallied for two runs to cut the lead to 8-7.

Vaughn Sexton struck out seven batters in four innings and stopped prolonged rallies for Cactus (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

“Vaughn’s a really good kid, a good pitcher. I can’t ask for anything better than that,” Copper Hills coach Raymond Ruiz Sr. said.

Ruiz’s team came through with another come-from-behind walk-off win after winning Game One of the best-of-three series 16-15 on Wednesday night by rallying for three runs in the seventh, capped by Jaxon Montalvo’s game-winning RBI.

Copper Hills advances to the Arizona Intermediate 50/70 State Tournament at Nogales starting July 16.

Copper Hills runs the field with the championship banner (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Asked what he will take from his experience in the victory over Cactus, Sexton said, “Being with all my friends (and) going to state, which is awesome. I’ve had a lot of chances. I’ve gone to all-stars a lot of times and I never went to state. This is a great feeling.”

Cactus coach Michael Lev, who covers the Arizona Wildcats’ football and baseball teams for the Arizona Daily Star, lamented that his team battled to have the lead going into the last inning of each game only to lose by a run.

“We played these guys four times and the first game I think we beat them 14-3, but the last three were all one-run walk-off wins for them … all three of them. So total heartbreaker,” Lev said. “I’m really proud of my guys. They fought. They battled.”

Michael Lev congratulates his team (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Lev mentioned that Wednesday’s four-hour marathon that included 31 runs, 21 hits and 24 walks “probably took a lot out of us.”

He said he noticed his catcher Alex Schneider, who scored three runs and had an RBI single in the first inning Thursday, looked fatigued at the end.

A sign of Cactus losing some energy was its scoreless fifth and sixth innings against Copper Hills reliever Leo Torres, who allowed only one hit — Ryder Campbell’s third double of the game — in the seventh and stuck out four batters.

Campbell was left stranded after stealing third base because Torres struck out the last two batters.

“We needed to score more than zero runs in the sixth and seventh innings — to me, that was the key to the game,” Lev said. “We had 12 through five and we needed a few more. I wish I could have been able to manufacture a run or something. We had the good guys coming up and it just didn’t happen.”

Copper Hills was also held without a run in the sixth by Campbell, who combined with starter Easton Nichols to strike out 15 batters. Nichols, who homered and was a triple away from the cycle, had 11 of the strike outs.

Campbell struck out the side in the sixth around two walks to preserve his team’s 12-11 lead.

Copper Hills’ seventh inning started with Montalvo walking and advancing to second and then third on wild pitches.

Sexton followed with a single that plated Montalvo to tie the game at 12. He moved to second on the throw to home plate that was attempted to get Montalvo out.

After Ezra Tessler walked, Sexton and Tessler stole third and second base. Sexton then scored on the wild pitch.

“It’s hard to battle from going from nothing to the top of everything,” Ruiz said of his team’s two walk-off wins in the series. “It’s fun. … They have heart. That’s what it takes to win the game — to have heart and not give up.”

Copper Hills applauds Cactus for its effort (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Little League Baseball

District 12

50/70 (Vista Del Prado)

Wednesday, June 23

Game One (Best of 3): Copper Hills 16, Cactus 15

Thursday, June 24

Game Two (Best of 3): Copper Hills 13, Cactus 12 (Copper Hills wins series, 2-0)

10U (Jesse Owens Park)

Friday, June 25

Game One: Cactus vs. Copper Hills, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 26

Game Two: San Xavier vs. Rincon, 5:15 p.m.

Game Three: Cactus-Copper Hills winner vs. Sunnyside, 7:45 p.m.

Monday, June 28

Game Four: Loser Game One vs. Loser Game Two, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 29

Game Five: Winner Game Two vs. Winner Game Three, 5:15 p.m.

Game Six: Loser Game Three vs. Winner Game Four, 7:45 p.m.

Thursday, July 1

Game Seven: Winner Game Six vs. Loser Game Five, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, July 2

Game Eight: Championship (Winner Game Five vs. Winner Game Seven), 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 3

Game Nine: Championship (if necessary, if Game Seven winner wins Game Eight), 6:30 p.m.

11U (Field of Dreams)

Saturday, June 26

Game One: Sunnyside vs. Randolph, 5:15 p.m.

Game Two: Rincon vs. Southwestern, 7:45 p.m.

Monday, June 28

Game Three: Copper Hills vs. Sunnyside-Randolph winner, 5:15 p.m.

Game Four: Los Ninos vs. Rincon-Southwestern winner, 7:45 p.m.

Tuesday, June 29

Game Five: Loser Game Two vs. Loser Game Three, 5:15 p.m.

Game Six: Loser Game One vs. Loser Game Four, 7:45 p.m.

Thursday, July 1

Game Seven: Winner Game Three vs. Winner Game Four, 5:15 p.m.

Game Eight: Winner Game Five vs. Winner Game Six, 7:45 p.m.

Saturday, July 3

Game Nine: Loser Game Seven vs. Winner Game Eight, 6:30 p.m.

Monday, July 5

Game Ten: Championship (Winner Game Seven vs. Loser Game Nine), 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 6

Game Eleven: Championship (if necessary, if Loser Game Nine wins Game Ten), 6:30 p.m. 

Juniors (Jesse Owens Park)

Saturday, June 26

Game One: Sunnyside vs. San Xavier, 5 p.m.

Game Two: Los Ninos vs. Southwestern, 7:45 p.m.

Monday, June 28

Game Three: Winner Game One vs. Winner Game Two, 5 p.m.

Game Four: Loser Game One vs. Loser Game Two, 7:45 p.m.

Tuesday, June 29

Game Five: Winner Game Four vs. Loser Game Three, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 1

Game Six: Championship (Winner Game Three vs. Winner Game Five), 6:30 p.m.

Friday, July 2

Game Seven: Championship (if necessary, if Winner Game Five beats Winner Game Three), 6:30 p.m.

Majors (Field of Dreams)

Wednesday, June 30

Game One (Field 1): Copper Hills vs. Sunnyside, 5:15 p.m.

Game Two (Field 2): Cactus vs. Empire, 5:15 p.m.

Game Three (Field 1): San Xavier vs. Southwestern, 7:45 p.m.

Game Four (Field 2): Rincon vs. Randolph, 7:45 p.m.

Thursday, July 1

Game Five (Field 1): Loser Game One vs. Loser Game Two, 5:15 p.m.

Game Six (Field 1): Loser Game Three vs. Loser Game Four, 7:45 p.m.

Saturday, July 3

Game Seven (Field 1): Game One Winner vs. Game Two Winner, 5:15 p.m.

Game Eight (Field 1): Game Three Winner vs. Game Four Winner, 7:45 p.m.

Monday, July 5

Game Nine (Field 1): Winner Game Five vs. Loser Game Eight, 5:15 p.m.

Game Ten (Field 1): Winner Game Six vs. Loser Game Seven, 7:45 p.m.

Tuesday, July 6

Game Eleven (Field 1): Winner Game Seven vs. Winner Game Eight, 5:15 p.m.

Game Twelve (Field 1): Winner Game Nine vs. Winner Game Ten, 7:45 p.m.

Wednesday, July 7

Game Thirteen (Field 1): Winner Game Twelve vs. Loser Game Eleven, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, July 9

Game Fourteen (Field 1): Championship (Winner Game Eleven vs. Winner Game Thirteen), 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 10

Game Fifteen (Field 1): Championship (if necessary, if Winner Game Thirteen wins Game Fourteen), 6:30 p.m.

District 5

10U (McDonald Park)

Monday, June 21

Game Two: Canyon View 11, Thornydale 1

Game Three: Flowing Wells/Amphi 12, Continental Ranch 8

Tuesday, June 22

Game Six: Continental Ranch 14, Thornydale 13

Game One: Tanque Verde 21, Oro Valley 6

Wednesday, June 23

Game Five: Canyon View 15, Flowing Wells/Amphi 0

Game Four: Tanque Verde 20, Western 2

Thursday, June 24

Game Seven: Flowing Wells/Amphi 15, Oro Valley 0

Game Eight: Continental Ranch 18, Western 2

Saturday, June 26

Game Ten: Flowing Wells/Amphi vs. Continental Ranch, 5 p.m.

Game Nine: Tanque Verde vs. Canyon View, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, June 28

Game Eleven: Loser Game Nine vs. Winner Game Ten, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 29

Game Twelve: Championship (Winner Game Nine vs. Winner Game Eleven), 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, June 30

Game Thirteen: Championship (if necessary, if Winner Game Eleven beats  vs. Winner Game Nine), 6:30 p.m.

11U (Kreigh Park)

Monday, June 21

Game Two: Thornydale 13, Tucson Mountain 3

Game Three: CDO 9, Western 5

Tuesday, June 22

Game Six: Tucson Mountain 18, Western 2 

Game One: Oro Valley 12, Marana 2

Wednesday, June 23

Game Five: Thornydale 18,  CDO 5

Game Four: Canyon View 14, Oro Valley 0

Thursday, June 24

Game Seven: CDO 25, Marana 15

Friday, June 25

Game Eight: Tucson Mountain vs. Oro Valley, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 26

Game Ten: CDO vs. Winner Game Eight, 5 p.m.

Game Nine: Canyon View vs. Thornydale, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, June 28

Game Eleven: Loser Game Nine vs. Winner Game Ten, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 29

Game Twelve: Championship (Winner Game Nine vs. Winner Game Eleven), 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, June 30

Game Thirteen: Championship (if necessary, if Winner Game Eleven beats  vs. Winner Game Nine), 6:30 p.m.

Majors (Arthur Pack Park)

Monday, June 21

Game Two: Oro Valley 13, CDO 2

Game Three: Western 11, Continental Ranch 1

Tuesday, June 22

Game Six: CDO 17, Continental Ranch 0

Game One: Canyon View 10, Marana 7

Wednesday, June 23

Game Five: Oro Valley 12, Western 1

Game Four: Thornydale 8, Canyon View 2

Thursday, June 24

Game Seven: Marana 9, Western 7

Game Eight: Canyon View 13, CDO 7

Saturday, June 26

Game Ten: Marana vs. Canyon View, 5 p.m.

Game Nine: Thornydale vs. Oro Valley, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, June 28

Game Eleven: Loser Game Nine vs. Winner Game Ten, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 29

Game Twelve: Championship (Winner Game Nine vs. Winner Game Eleven), 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, June 30

Game Thirteen: Championship (if necessary, if Winner Game Eleven beats  vs. Winner Game Nine), 6:30 p.m.

50/70 (Crossroads)

Monday, June 28

Game One (Best of 3): Western vs. Continental Ranch, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 29

Game Two (Best of 3): Western vs. Continental Ranch, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, June 30

Game Three (Best of 3): If necessary, Western vs. Continental Ranch, 6:30 p.m.


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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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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