Photo courtesy Jo. L. Keener/Daily Courier
Aaron Hauser had command from th mound the entire championship contest, striking out nine Prescott North batters. He also drove home the first run.
Renewing a match on Friday night that had produced a 1-0 thriller in favor of Verde earlier last week, Prescott North tangled again with VV in the District 10 Little League Championship but came up short, 5-1.
Verde Valley made the most out of four first-inning runs and the right-armed velocity of pitcher Aaron Hauser, who allowed just five hits — all singles — and struck out nine in a complete-game effort that included drilling his team’s first RBI of the night.
The victory, in front of a packed house at Mountain Valley Park in Prescott Valley, allowed Verde Valley to run the tourney table with a 5-0 mark, allowing just 10 runs in the five games.
For its effort, David Hauser’s squad now takes aim at the state Little League tourney beginning Friday night in Phoenix. Verde Valley will play the District 13 champion (Tempe, Ahwatukee, and Chandler area) at 8 p.m. at Diamondback Field. The winner plays again Saturday. The loser plays again Monday.
“I believed in them the whole time,” Hauser said of his team’s chances to hoist the District 10 championship banner. “The attitude. They gelled like, boom. Nobody fought with anybody, they played and we just came out game-by-game.”
Prescott North’s starting pitcher Rich Schleicher allowed only one earned run and struck out two in what proved to be the decisive opening frame. Ryan Pearson then picked up for Schleicher and threw four excellent innings.
Verde Valley’s Tony Vocca stroked a one-out double in the bottom of the first and came home on Hauser’s first pitch-swinging base hit to right.
Garrett MacDonald followed by reaching on an error before Conner Barrett flared a single to center to drive in two more runs for Verde Valley. Third baseman Ely Self padded the lead with a two-out single to center to score Barrett and widen the margin to 4-0.
Prescott North rallied quickly, though. Left fielder David Frey led off the top of the second with a walk and later scored on Ryan Pearson’s single to center.
But only one other North baserunner would reach as far as second base the rest of the way as Hauser, throwing on a comfortable four days’ rest, proved too much.
“They couldn’t hit him,” coach Hauser said. “They didn’t know what to expect. He mixed his pitches up.”