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GARLAND â€” After giving up 15 runs in a lopsided loss to Waco Southern two days earlier, Sweetwaterâ€™s Senior League (ages 15-16) all-stars were much more competitive when the teams met again Saturday in the Texas West Section 2 championship game.
However, it still wasnâ€™t enough as Waco Southern pulled away late to claim the title with a 5-1 victory at South Garlandâ€™s Little League complex and ad-vance to the state tourna-ment in Fort Worth.
Although Waco Southern never trailed against Sweet-water, the outcome was very much in doubt most of the way. Sweetwater out-hit Waco Southern 6-4 and got a great effort from starting pitcher Kaleb Hoover, who allowed just three hits in six innings and trailed only 2-1 when he was lifted in the top of the seventh.
However, Waco Southern scored three times in the inning despite getting only one hit â€” a two-run single by Edward Ibarra. Two hit batsmen, a walk and a bases-loaded error made it 3-1 prior to Ibarraâ€™s hit off Hooverâ€™s replacement, Brandon Howell. Sweetwa-ter was then retired in order in the bottom of the seventh by Waco Southern pitcher Joe Cervantez, who went the distance for the victory.
Sweetwater had baserun-ners in all but two innings, but managed only to score in the fourth when it cut the lead to 2-1. Sean Morrow hit a one-out double and moved to third on a single by Cole Maxwell, then broke for home and scored after Quentin Wetsel, who was running for Maxwell, stole second base.
Sweetwater nearly tied the game in the fifth after Dylan Bennettâ€™s two-out single. Ryan Linebaugh ripped a drive that appeared to be headed for the gap in right-centerfield, but Waco Southernâ€™s Johnny Rivera made a diving catch to re-cord the third out.
Waco Southern jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first on a walk, hit batter and Michael Jiminezâ€™s two-RBI double, but Hoover quickly settled down. He allowed no runs on just two hits over the next five innings, while his infielders turned double plays in consecutive innings to keep Waco Southern from doing more damage.
Bennett had two hits for Sweetwater, which went 2-2 at the tournament and also got singles from Greg Aiken and Shawn Campbell in the second inning.