Two home runs by Sunnyside in the bottom of the sixth inning, including a walk-off homer by Josue Espinoza, gave it a dramatic 4-3 win Wednesday over Empire in the elimination-bracket final of the District 12 Majors baseball tournament at Field of Dreams.
Christian Moran started the inning with a home run to cut the lead to 3-2 and Diego Garcia followed with a single before Espinoza belted his game-winning homer to give Sunnyside the win.
Ezequiel Lorta earned the win in relief striking out all six batters he faced on only 22 pitches in his two innings of work.
Sunnyside advances to the championship round where it will play Rincon on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Field of Dreams. The teams met in the winner’s bracket semifinal on Tuesday with Rincon prevailing 5-4. Sunnyside must beat Rincon on Friday and Saturday for the title, while Rincon needs to win once to advance to the state tournament at Tempe on July 16.
Empire got on the scoreboard first on Wednesday in the second inning with a two-out rally started with Edrick Jimenez’s single followed by Julius Salvador’s double. Michael Sunday’s infield single scored Jimenez to put Empire ahead 1-0.
The lead increased to 3-0 in the third inning on Alek Leyva’s RBI single and Leyva later scoring on an error.
Sunnyside was hitless until Ezequiel Lorta’s single to lead off the fourth inning. Singles by Carlos Rodriguez and Santos Lopez followed, and Lorta scored on an error to cut the lead to 3-1, leading up to the sixth-inning winning rally.
Sunnyside starter Sabino Gonzalez pitched four innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs with four strikeouts and no walks.
Empire’s Jason Cañez pitched a complete game, giving up seven hits and three earned runs with six strikeouts and no walks.
The game featured a total of 16 strikeouts for both teams with no walks.
DISTRICT 12 MAJORS BASEBALL
Field of Dreams
Friday, July 9
Game Fourteen: Championship — Rincon vs. Sunnyside, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 10
Game Fifteen: Championship (Sunnyside vs. Rincon again, if Sunnyside wins Game Fourteen), 6:30 p.m.
FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER!
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