Baseball round-up — The JBO junior team takes second and the Babe Ruth 13-15 squad places fourth to finish out the summer season

There appears to be plenty of baseball talent coming up the pipeline in Newberg, with a pair of strong performances at recent state tournaments providing the evidence.

Newberg’s Junior Baseball of Oregon (JBO) junior team of 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds followed through on their league championship by placing second at state, while Kiley Peffers’ Babe Ruth 13-15 team took fourth.

Both teams were relatively young, with coach Marc Nipp’s JBO group featuring three 10-year-olds, seven 11-year-olds and just two 12-year-olds.

The team went 14-0 to win the Washington County League and also won at McMinnville’s tournament during the regular season.

Newberg picked up some momentum with a 5-2 win over Liberty in its opening contest at state, getting a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth to take a 3-2 lead, then icing the game with a two-run home run in the next at-bat.

“Our team played tough all week,” Nipp said. “In every game at some point we were down by a run or two — the kids didn’t quit. They focused on run production and boys stepped up when we needed them.”

Newberg was tied with McKay through five innings of a seesaw affair, but advanced when the Scots were disqualified for over pitching a player.

North Plains downed Newberg 6-1 in the final game of the winner’s bracket, but the team bounced back with an 8-1 victory to eliminate Liberty and get another crack at North Plains.

Newberg (26-5) was aggressive at the plate in the championship game, but North Plains played strong defense and prevailed 6-2.

“As coaches, we could not ask for any more than what these boys put into this year, practicing four to five days a week from the middle of March to the state tourney in July,” Nipp said. “We stayed positive, worked hard and found some success along the way.”

Peffer’s Babe Ruth squad was much younger than the teams it faced at the state tournament, featuring mostly 13- and 14-year-olds, but built up a good reputation for playing hard and fast against teams that featured some players with facial hair.

“We were a little overmatched this year,” Peffers said. “We had some really good pitchers and some good athletes and all those teams said they didn’t want to play us again.”

Austin Fletcher, one of the two 15-year-olds on the team, blasted a home run over the 355-foot fence in the opener against Union County, but Newberg fell 9-4.

The team rebounded to throttle Clackamas 15-1 and rested its top pitchers for the final game of pool play, a 15-13 loss to Southwest Metro.

Newberg showed its mettle in the opening round of bracket play, a 4-3 win over Baker City in 11 innings. A few errors allowed Baker City to take a 3-1 lead in the third, but RBI singles by Fletcher and Chris Schreiber tied it in the top of the fifth.

Fletcher came in to pitch the rest of the game, going the seven innings without allowing a run. He had to work his way out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth, inducing a pop fly and getting a strikeout to escape.

Nipp gambled to get the winning run in the bottom of the 11th. With runners at first and third, Baker City turned a double play, but Nipp sent Hayden Green home from third.

“I took a chance and sent Hayden home, knowing we didn’t have Fletcher to pitch another inning and we were running out of opportunities,” Peffers said. “I took a chance and Hayden is fast; he got in there and scored.”

The team was pretty spent and ran into a stud pitcher in round two, getting no-hit in a 9-2 loss to The Dalles. They closed out the tournament with a 12-2 loss to Snake River Valley in the third-place match.

In addition to being great pitchers, Nipp was especially impressed with how his oldest players, Fletcher and Austin, mentored their younger teammates throughout the season.

“It was like the younger kids didn’t want to let the older boys down,” Nipp said. “We built on each other and just played good.”

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