By Ray Hamill — The McKinleyville 8-10 All-Stars won an elimination game at the Section Tournament for the second straight night at Hiller Park on Tuesday.
The Mack players held off a late Chico Central rally on the way to a 7-5 win, handing their opponents their first loss in tournament play.
The two clubs, who have split a pair of tournament games this week, will now face off for a third time in a winner-takes-all championship showdown on Wednesday, with a place in this weekend’s state tournament up for grabs.
Chico, however, refused to go down easily and narrowed the gap with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
The McKinleyville players, who were officially the visiting team, added an insurance run on a Rowdy Furber double in the top of the sixth, but the Chico bats would threaten again in the bottom half of the inning after loading the bases with no outs.
Chico then scored two runs on a fly out to left field, but McKinleyville relief pitcher Reece Combs struck out the next batter to help seal the win and keep his team’s playoffs going.
Colton Hawkes got the start on the mound and pitched well, holding the Chico offense scoreless for 3.1 innings before exiting the game after reaching his pitch limit.
Shortstop Casanova Marshall, second baseman Cooper Jones, center fielder Tyus Scofield and catcher Crew Hicks all played well defensively, with Jones also making a big catch after switching to left field late in the game.
Furber also provided a reliable glove at first.
The Mack bats scored four runs in the top of the third, two of them coming on a Tatum Brock base hit.
Hicks got the offense going early on with an RBI hit in the top of the first.
Wednesday’s final is set for 5 p.m.
The state tournament, which gets under way onSaturday, will be hosted by McKinleyyville.