Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Santa Fe 12s defeat NASA 6-2 for key District 14 victory

With his grandfather coming all the way from Missouri to watch him play a baseball game, Calvin Van Horn hoped he could deliver something special.

The Santa Fe Little League hurler met those expectations that his grandfather will be bragging about when he returns to Missouri.

Van Horn struck out 11 in five official innings of work, while pitching no-hit ball in leading Santa Fe to a 6-2 District 14 Majors victory over the NASA Area Little League all-stars at John Paul Field Wednesday night.

Before he maxed out on his pitch count, Van Horn faced one batter in the sixth when NASA’s three-hole batter singled to left field that eventually led to the team’s second run.

With the win, Santa Fe finds itself just two victories shy of winning the District 14 title and moving on to sectionals. The Indians will play the Island all-stars Saturday night at 7 back at the League City Sportsplex to see who reaches the title contest, scheduled for Monday night.

The way the Santa Fe coaching staff has it set up, Van Horn’s required four days of rest expires Monday at midnight, meaning he’s eligible to throw again for potentially the title contest.

Meanwhile, the Island all-stars defeated the Bayside 12s 11-5 Wednesday night to also move within two wins of the district title.

Now the 12-year-old all-stars from NASA, Bayside and League City all have their backs against the wall and all must manufacture a five-game winning streak in order to save their respective seasons. Unfortunately for the local Little League scene, only one has the potential to do it.

Van Horn survived the opening two innings when the gloves behind him struggled. The Indians committed five errors, including three straight in the second inning that created a two-out rally, before Van Horn struck out the two-hole hitter to end the unnecessary threat.

That strikeout started a run of 10 consecutive batters that Van Horn retired, all of them strikeout victims except two NASA pinchhit batters who tried to bunt their way on. The bunts were excellent but Santa Fe was ready for them.

Van Horn said he routinely started batters off with a fastball, a pitch that has been clocked in the low 70s.

“The max that I have been clocked is at 72. There were some people clocking me at Oak Tree and they told my dad and my dad told me,” said Van Horn, who throws four pitches, including a fork ball.

Win or lose, it was a true treat to have his grandfather in attendance.

“He’s been up there in Missouri for so long and he hasn’t seen me play a lot. For him to see this game was really special,” Van Horn said.

NASA Little League’s Tanner Richards was the starting and losing pitcher. He struck out seven and walked none in five innings on the mound.

Richards pitched well for the opening four frames, allowing just two hits. Unfortunately for NASA fans both of those hits came in the second inning when Max Feimster singled to start the inning and two outs later Brayden Fritch singled him home.

But in the fifth, Santa Fe batted around, breaking the game open with four runs. All of the mischief arrived after one out. Six of the next seven batters reached base and two of those runners were strikeout victims, who took advantage of strike three finding the ground.

But the big blow was Carson Sunday’s bases-loaded triple that effectively snapped the 1-1 tie. Sunday watched Richards’ opening three pitches go for balls, before Richards rebounded with two called strikes. The sixth pitch wound up in the outfield grass, rolling away from the left fielder.

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