The Oregon City Midget ball club saves its best for the county tournament

by: SUBMITTED - The Oregon City Red Rascals have a lot to be proud of. They played their best baseball of the season at the 2013 Clackamas County Junior Baseball Midget American Championship Tournament, and won the third-place team trophy. Vying for the Rascals were: (first row, left to right) Robert Ashby, Weston Bean, Dylan Ha, Harley Richter, Dominik Neff and Rylan Williams; (second row) Blake Anderson, Owen McCrae, Camden Fowler, Timothy Hyne and Justin Caldwell; (back) head coach Jason Stewart, coach Mike Fowler, coach Travis Stewart and coach Michael Richter; and (not pictured) Ashton Meeker.The Oregon City Red Rascals made an amazing run at the recent Clackamas County Junior Baseball Midget American Championship Tournament, held June 28-30 at Wilsonville’s Memorial Park.

After going 8-8 in league regular-season play and needing to win a play-in game just to make the tournament, the Red Rascals entered postseason play as decided darkhorses. But they finished third in the county tournament and earned a berth in the Midget American State Tournament.

“I’m amazed at what they’ve done,” said Red Rascals head coach Jason Stewart. “But I’m not surprised. I knew they were good enough. They’ve worked hard the last seven months. It was no fluke.”

The Red Rascals weren’t expected to even make the county tournament. They were matched up against a Tualatin team that had beaten them twice — 10-5 and 8-7 — in a loser-out pre-county tournament game. They came ready to play, and they stunned the Tualatin team 13-5.

“We just wanted it more,” said Stewart. “We five-runned them in the first inning, and they couldn’t come back from that. The defense was awesome! The pitching was awesome! And we played awesome!”

The Red Rascals were matched up with the tournament’s No. 2 seed, a Clackamas team coached by Bruce Harmier, in their first game of the double-elimination county tournament. They had lost to that team in two close games during the regular season, 14-13 and 14-12.

The third time was once again the charm, as the Red Rascals took no hostages en route to an 18-3 upset of their cross-county rivals.

The Red Rascals continued hot, handling South Clackamas in their next game 6-4. It was once again a team that the Rascals had not beaten during the regular season.

The Red Rascals then exited the tournament with a pair of losses, bowing to Sellwood 14-0 and to a different Tualatin team, 10-5. It was a Sellwood team that had gone 16-0 in league and the Rascals struggled to keep up with Sellwood’s flame-throwing pitchers.

Stewart explained the Rascals’ successful run at the county tournament:

“I call [our players] rascals for a reason. Each kid has got a certain knack about them and each kid helps the team in a different way.”

Stewart said that pitching was pivotal in the Red Rascals’ success story. He says he’s got six strong pitchers in fireballer Harley Richter (pitcher/catcher/third), Timothy Hyne (pitcher/utility), Dylan Ha (pitcher/shortstop), Camden Fowler (pitcher/first base), Justin Caldwell (pitcher/third) and Weston Bean (pitcher/second).

“None of them had pitched before this year,” Stewart said. “But the coaches worked with them, and they worked hard and got better.”

Stewart said he had four pitchers who could throw the ball pretty hard and two who were pretty proficient with knuckleballs.

The Red Rascals’ success was all the more impressive because they sported a youthful lineup, with only four 10-year-olds on the team.

Blake Anderson, a 7-year-old at the start of the season, had only played T-Ball before this year. But he held his own on the Red Rascals’ ball club, playing centerfield and second base.

“He was the youngest player on our team,” said Stewart. “He’s little, but he throws the ball hard. He may be small, but he plays big.”

Rounding out the roster were: Dominik Neff (outfield), Robert Ashby (outfield), Rylan William (catcher), Owen Mcrae (centerfield) and Ashton Meeker (centerfield).

Stewart says that his charges could play the short game and bunt the ball on offense, as well as hit the long ball. Ha, Richter, Ashby, Caldwell and Hyne all hit home runs during the 2013 season.

Mike Fowler, Mike Richter and Travis Stewart were assistant coaches on the team.

The Red Rascals will be in Corvallis July 11-14, playing in the Midget American State Tournament.

“Win or lose [at state], I’m happy with them,” said Stewart. “And they should be very happy and proud of what they’ve accomplished. They’re wonderful kids and they’ve come a long way. The first practice, none of them could catch the ball....”

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