The top-seeded Cortez Pepperjax on Thursday night lost a tight championship game to the Northern Bulldogs, 9-7, in Farmington Amateur Baseball Congress league.
The Pepperjax finished .500 on the season and were runner-ups in the FABC Pee Wee Reese 12-under league.
“Shikayo Jones, Zane Coffey, Kendrick MacPherson continued to swing a hot bat,” said head coach Jason Hernandez, but the Pepperjax defense could not shut down the Bulldogs.
Kaden Ruiz put the Pepperjax in front early with a two-run single in the second inning to make the score 3-2. It was the last lead for the Cortez team.
Malichi Padilla pitched three strong innings, and Landin Ward pitched a third of an inning. Zane Coffey, relieving Ward with Bulldogs runners on second and third bases and one out, managed a pop-out and strikeout to get the Pepperjax out of the jam.
On Wednesday night, Pepperjax, seeded No. 1 with a 6-6 record and receiving a Game 1 bye in the tournament, beat the Bad News Bears 15-7 in the semifinal to set up the team’s championship bid.
The Bad News Bears struck early against Pepperjax pitcher Art Lein in the bottom of the first inning to take a 3-0 lead.
But the Pepperjax answered as their bats thundered to life and scored nine runs to go ahead 9-3 with big hits from Shikayo Jones and Coffey.
Jones took the mound in the second inning to record one out as the Bad News Bears made it 9-7, but with bases loaded, reliever Costner Hernandez struck out the side.
The depleted Bad News Bears pitchers could not hold off the Pepperjax, who put up six more scores and ended the game with a mercy rule.
The Pepperjax, which won just one game last year, made it to the 2022 championship game as the top seed under coaches Jim Lein and Tyler Monarco. Head coach Hernandez also credited the players for their strong effort and the players’ parents for their support.