Andrew Wieger struck out five in a complete-game effort Friday to lift Rancho to a 7-5 win over Tucson (Ariz.) Post 7 in the second round of the American Legion Western Regional in Surprise, Ariz.
Wieger allowed 10 hits, including a pair of home runs and worked out of a jam in the eighth inning to keep the Post 8 Rams undefeated in the tournament.
“Andrew is a horse,” said Rancho coach Tom Pletsch. “He pitched a great game. He left a couple of pitches up, and that Tucson team is a heck of a team.”
Cristian Munoz’s two-out RBI single in the second inning plated Zach Barnhart with the game’s first run, and Rancho held the lead the rest of the way.
The Rams (30-18) cashed in on a wild pitch and Juan Cruz-Sanchez’s sacrifice fly to score twice in the third, and Jose Verdugo and Barnhart each had an RBI single in the fourth as Rancho extended its lead to 5-0.
“We were a hit or two away in a couple of innings from just blowing this thing out,” Pletsch said. “We led 5-0, and it felt like it could have been 8-0 or 9-0.”
But Tucson rallied to within 5-3 before the Rams tacked on two runs on a wild pitch and Josh Mill’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh.
Tucson cut the lead to 7-5 on a two-run homer in the eighth and had runners on first and second with one out, but Wieger got a strikeout and a ground out to end the threat.
“He wanted the ball,” Pletsch said. “He’s a bigger guy. He’s 6 feet, 6 inches and about 250 pounds. He’s a guy who can throw a lot of pitches.”
Barnhart was 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, and Verdugo was 2-for-4 with an RBI for Rancho, which will face either Albuquerque Post 13 or Tucson Post 36 at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Albuquerque-Tucson game, the day’s final game, was played under protest due to the possible use of ineligible players by the Post 36 team. Tucson won the game, 11-9, but a ruling on the protest isn’t expected until Saturday morning.