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Damon Elarton, Geno Cervi help get Pueblo Azteca baseball to top of ’Nuch standings

  • Pueblo Azteca vs. Burkburnett
    Pueblo Azteca vs. Burkburnett

    Damon Elarton throws a pitch in their matchup with Burkburnett on the second day of the Andenucio Tournament on Friday [CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN]

  • Pueblo Azteca vs. Burkburnett
    Pueblo Azteca vs. Burkburnett

    Pueblo Azteca third baseman Tyler DeClusin throws the ball to first after fielding a groundball against Burkburnett on the second day of the Andenucio Tournament on Friday.[CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN]

  • Pueblo Azteca vs. Burkburnett
    Pueblo Azteca vs. Burkburnett

    Pueblo Azteca's Tyler Barth, right, awaits a throw by Damon Elarton, front, in attempt to get out a Burkburnett baserunner on the second day of the Andenucio Tournament on Friday. [CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN]

  • Pueblo Azteca vs. Burkburnett
    Pueblo Azteca vs. Burkburnett

    Pueblo Azteca first baseman Tyler Barth, left, tags out a Burkburnett baserunner on a pickle play during the second day of the Andenucio Tournament on Friday. [CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN]

  • Pueblo Azteca vs. Burkburnett
    Pueblo Azteca vs. Burkburnett

    Pueblo Azteca’s Josh Velasco connects with a base hit that brought in a score against Burkburnett on the second day of the Andenucio Tournament on Friday. [CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN]]


BY AUSTIN WHITE | The Pueblo Chieftain | JUN 15, 2019

The Pueblo Azteca 18U baseball club might be based in the Steel City, but a kid from Rye led the way on the mound Friday.

Damon Elarton pitched a complete game in Azteca’s 7-3 win over the Burkburnett Blacksox to improve to 2-0 in pool play at the Tony Andenucio Memorial Tournament.

In the nightcap, behind a strong outing from starter Geno Cervi and another explosion on offense, Pueblo took down Las Vegas 10-2 and improved to 3-0 and now stand alone at the top of the American division.

“That performance was one of the toughest, grittiest, just competitive performances that I’ve seen since I’ve been coaching,” Azteca coach Mario Mattivi said. “Hands down, that’s all Damon. He came in and said ‘I’m fine, let me keep going.’”

“He told me, ‘You’re never going to hear me say no.’”

Elarton gave up a run in the first, fourth and fifth inning, but that was all. He threw 112 pitches and allowed only five hits with four walks and six strikeouts.

Elarton continued to pull himself out of tough spots by getting the big strikeout or getting fly outs with two outs on the board.

“Really just trying not to think too much, pitching for outs and let my defense work behind me,” Elarton said on what went well Friday. “Just trusting myself and trusting the guys behind me to make plays.”

Speaking of consistency, the Azteca lineup was the model of that. All nine starters had a hit against the Blacksox, including East’s Nico Cristelli picking up two.

 The scoreboard reflected the strong hitting lineup as Azteca put up at least one run in four of the six innings.

Jayden Cordova had the team high with two RBI on a bloop single in the sixth to score his former Pueblo West teammates in Kyle Jameson and Tyler DeClusin.

“These guys, that’s what they do,” Mattivi said on the consistent hitting. “We’re playing better as a whole... It’s the next guy up mentality. One guy rolls over, hits a pop fly or struck out, the next guy picked him up and that’s exactly what we did and we kept constant pressure on the base paths.”

The start for Elarton was his second of the summer after he started the season last week against Cherry Creek and went 4 2/3 without allowing a run in Azteca’s 9-0 win.

“I’m just out here having fun and just enjoying this last summer before college,” Elarton said. “Just enjoying this team and enjoying the guys. We have a good team and the guys are great, the coaches are awesome and it’s a lot of fun.”

Cervi was sipping the same secret stuff Elarton had as the former Central Wildcat kept Las Vegas guessing in the first three innings of game two on the day.

The Blazers went without a hit until the fourth inning when they used a couple walks and a couple singles to put up two runs. Those were the only two hits Cervi allowed as he finished with five strikeouts and five walks to go with it.

 “I’ve been thinking about it for a week now and said if we get to that game and we’re in a good position I’m giving (Cervi) the ball and I couldn’t have asked for a better performance,” Mattivi said. “There’s some things we need to work on, refocusing with two outs, but he was great tonight.”

A.J. Cordova came in to pitch in the fifth, which turned out to be the final inning thanks to a five run outburst in the bottom half.

Ryan Downs had the biggest blow with a bases loaded double to the left-center gap. Downs then became the walk-off run as Tyler DeClusin reached on an error that allowed Downs to score from third.

“To be full circle like that is awesome,” Elarton said of the offense complementing the defense Friday. “We put in lots of work and it shows. We have lots of good hitters and its fun to be able to do both.”

Having only two pitchers in Nate Denniston and Elarton go above 90 pitches, the rotation for Azteca is exactly where Mattivi wants it to be.

Ty Addington and Cordova pitched minimal amounts and Cervi ended his performance with only 86 pitches thrown.

“Its that next guy up mentality, AJ picked up Cervi,” Mattivi said. “And I couldn’t be prouder of (Cervi). He’s been with me for four years now so this was the moment and I said ‘Take it and run with it,’ and he did exactly that.”

 Pueblo will finish up pool play today at 5 p.m. against Farmington and then the final game at 7:30 p.m. against Parker to set the stage for the semifinals Sunday.

.Chieftain sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at awhite@chieftain.com or on Twitter @ajwrules44.

Pueblo 10, Las Vegas 2

LV 000 20  -- 2 3 4

PUE 014 05  -- 10 8 1

Ramirez and Collins. Cervi, A. Cordova and Cristelli. WP: Cervi. LP: Ramirez.

2B: Downs.

 

Pueblo 7, Burkburnett 3

BB 100  110 0  -- 3  5  3

PUE 022 120 x – 7 10 2

Evans, Dubois and Sauceda. Elarton and Cristelli. WP: Elarton. LP: Evans.

2B: Velasco, Barth, Jameson.

-- Compiled by Austin White

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