Youth baseball — The Newberg Babe Ruth senior baseball team goes unbeaten in its final tournament to finish the season 18-4

TIGARD — To say the Newberg Babe Ruth Senior baseball team hit the ball well at its final tournament of the season last week in Tigard would be an understatement.

Not only did the team average 12.1 runs per game, most of which went just four or five innings, but all 10 players averaged to bat at least .500 at the plate as Newberg blasted its way to a 6-0 record and the tournament title July 24 through Sunday at Fowler Middle School in SETH GORDON - Human backstop -- Filling in for injured starter Jake Irsik, recent Newberg High School graduate Jonathan Morales corrals a pitch during the Newberg Babe Ruth Senior team's 11-1 win over Goldendale, Wash., on Friday in Tigard. Newberg went 6-0 to win their final tournament and finish the season 18-4.

“It’s the last time most of us are going to play baseball, so we just had fun,” recent Newberg High School grad and third baseman Colby Cochell said.

After dispatching the Salem Senators 7-1 in a warm-up game July 23, Newberg opened the tournament hosted by Southwest Metro Babe Ruth, by thrashing Southeast Portland 11-1. Jake Irsik threw all five innings and allowed just one hit to get the win.

In its closest game of the week, Newberg edged Tigard 5-2 on Thursday. Cole Miller took over for starter Matt Gardner in the third inning, allowing two hits and striking out eight to keep Tigard off the board the rest of the game. The offense got on track in the third, scoring three runs to take the lead and getting two more in the fourth.

“It wasn’t our best outing, but it was good enough for a victory,” head coach Jeff Cochell said. “We played really solid defense. Jonathan Morales had to come in and catch in the third for Jake (Irsik), who hurt his thumb, and did an awesome job behind the plate. Juan Mauleon was a human vacuum at shortstop. There are not many balls, if any, that get past him.”

Newberg cruised past Goldendale, Wash., 11-1 in four innings Friday, getting a complete game performance from Tim Symolon, who struck out six.

Following a slow start against Gaston Saturday, the offense exploded for 22 hits in a 20-5 victory.

Colby Cochell and Gardner each went 4-for-5 and combined to drive in seven runs. Tyler Morse, Morales and Mauleon all went 2-for-3.

Newberg took on Southwest Metro in the first of two games Sunday, prevailing 13-3. Gardner, Irsik and Symolon all pitched two innings apiece, with Symolon striking out the final six batters.

In the championship game, Miller fueled Newberg to a 13-1 win against Gaston, allowing three hits and walking five with nine strikeouts in five innings. Cochell and Mauleon had three hits apiece and Hunter Sheely hit an inside-the-park home run for good measure.

Morales went 15-for-18 for the tournament to post a team-high .833 batting average, with Mauleon (.824) and Cochell (.782) not far behind.

“I just want to say this was the best group of boys I have ever coached and we had a blast,” Jeff Cochell said. “I started this adventure wanting these boys to find fun in baseball and the love of the game and I can honestly say I think we accomplished that. I have to say these boys showed me the passion for baseball again as well.”

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