The Desert Oasis pitching staff couldn’t pull off a third consecutive shutout Saturday at the American Legion Western Regional in Denver.
The Aces didn’t need one.
Aaron Roberts hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the bottom of the third inning, and Desert Oasis defeated Tucson (Arizona) 7-3 to move into the regional championship.
The Aces play League City (Texas) at 11 a.m. Sunday. League City must win twice to claim the title and a berth in the American Legion World Series.
Desert Oasis beat League City 12-0 on Friday.
“We feel good, but obviously we’ve still got to take care of business tomorrow,” Desert Oasis coach Paul Buboltz said. “We’re trying to keep our guys focused on tomorrow and not the next day.”
With the game tied at 3, walks to Parker Schmidt and Chaison Miklich brought Roberts to the plate with one out. He blasted a homer to put the Aces ahead for good. Desert Oasis added a run later in the inning on a sacrifice fly by Jordan Demarce for the final margin.
“Aaron gave us a big boost,” Buboltz said.
The Aces jumped on Tucson for three runs in the first. Miklich had a two-run double and Roberts an RBI double for a 3-0 lead.
But Tucson scored a run in the second and two in the third, tying the game on an RBI double by Michael Corral.
“It could have swung either way,” Buboltz said. “They were playing a good game. That changed the momentum when we were able to answer back in the bottom half.”
Roberts finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs to lead the Aces’ eight-hit attack. Schmidt and Miklich each went 1-for-2 and scored twice.
Colby Smith pitched the distance for the Aces, allowing three earned runs on five hits. He struck out two and walked two and threw 102 pitches.
“It was a good game,” Buboltz said. “We got a good performance out of Colby Smith on the mound again.”
Buboltz said Josh Sharman would start Sunday’s first game for Desert Oasis. He threw four scoreless innings to pick up the win on Thursday in an 8-0 win over Greeley (Colorado). Sharman was lifted after 57 pitches in that game, meaning he has no additional pitch-count restrictions on Sunday.
American Legion Western Regional
League City (Texas) 6, Albuquerque (N.M.) 2
Desert Oasis 3, Petaluma (Calif.) 2
Fort Collins (Colo.) 5, Tucson (Ariz.) 3
Greeley (Colo.) 2, Pleasant Grove (Utah) 0
Tucson (Ariz.) 19, Albuquerque (N.M.) 2
Petaluma (Calif.) 5, Pleasant Grove (Utah) 2
League City (Texas) 5, Fort Collins (Colo.) 3
Desert Oasis 8, Greeley (Colo.) 0
Petaluma (Calif.) 14, Fort Collins (Colo.) 0
Tucson (Ariz.) 3, Greeley (Colo.) 1
Desert Oasis 12, League City (Texas) 0
League City (Texas) 4, Petaluma (Calif.) 2
Desert Oasis 7, Tucson (Ariz.) 3
Game 14 — League City (Texas) vs. Desert Oasis, 11 a.m.
Game 15 — Winner Game 14 vs. Loser Game 14, if necessary, 2:30 p.m.