Three River Juniors advance to state tournament |

Three River Juniors advance to state tournament

Phil SandovalGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Phil Sandoval|Grand Junction Free Press

GRAND JUNCTION – Among Little League baseball circles, the Three Rivers Juniors team has established itself; the District 1 Junior Boys championship banner they excitedly clutched Friday night proves it.Forced to a second championship game Friday after a humbling 11-0 shutout loss to Grand Mesa the night before, Three Rivers reversed its form with a 11-2 win that earned the title and a spot in next weekend’s state tournament. “Yesterday we were tired, and we weren’t in the game. Today we came. We were ready to play, and we just took it to them,” said Luke Jacob, who went 3-for-4 in the game.

Although Jacob had plenty of hitting help behind him in winning the rubber match, he appeared to be on a personal crusade. Jacob’s first hit of the game was part of Three Rivers’ three-run, first-inning rally for a lead it never relinquished after trailing 1-0 in the top of the stanza. Jacob went on to finish the night by scoring two runs, whacking a double to knock in a run and even pitched the last three shutout innings when he struck out five Grand Mesa batters.Tucker Barnes staked the host team to its short-lived advantage when he singled in Deion Clayton.In the bottom half of the frame, Taylor Mayor’s one-out double started the ball rolling. Singles by Jacob, Mario Gonzalez and Jordan Hirro turned into runs.

With Three Rivers’ early lead, Scott Hoffman did the rest.The 14-year-old held Grand Mesa to six scattered hits while striking out three in a four-inning performance in which he gave up only one other run. That came in the fourth, after which Three Rivers held a 4-2 advantage. The All-Stars then pulled away for good on back-to-back three-run rallies in the sixth and seventh.The key, Hoffman said, was to keep calm.”I just stayed patient and worked the corners and didn’t get too anxious,” he said. “Sometimes I got a little scared, they got the bases loaded. Then I calmed down and got out of it.”

After wiggling out from that jam, Grand Mesa mustered a final attack in the seventh, putting runners on at first and second with one away. Hoffman sealed it on a game-ending double play ground ball.The team’s victory establishes Three Rivers’ prominence inside District 1, which includes four Mesa County-based Little Leagues and teams from Cortez, Montrose and Telluride. “To the community, this is immense. It’s a whole new dawning of baseball for us,” said manager Thor Reeds. “Being in Little League has helped us, and we’re proud to be in Little League. This is the best we’ve done, and it’s super exciting.”The Three Rivers Juniors will now move on to the state double-elimination tournament July 20-24. The squad’s District 1 title also merited an invitation to play in the regional tournament hosted by Grand Junction featuring teams from Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma.

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