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Tigard's late rally falls just short in the state championship

by: DAN BROOD - TAGGED -- Tigard catcher Kolby Shimojima (left) tags out Hermiston's Sam Schwirse. TIGARD — A huge, loud crowd.

Back and forth action.

Big hits, big plays.

A furious late rally.

All that was missing for the Tigard Little League ages 10-11 all-star baseball team was a victory and a state championship to go with it.

And the Tigard squad came oh-so-close to getting both of those things as well.

Tigard’s spirited last-inning rally came up just one run short, as the squad was edged 11-10 by Hermiston in a thrilling Oregon State Tournament championship game played last Thursday in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Cook Park.

“We had a great run,” Tigard’s Aden Murphy said after the game. “Second in the state is great.”

“This team is all-around good,” Tigard’s Holden Hughes added. “For us to be in the state championship game, here in Tigard, was really special.”

“It’s a lot better than not getting here,” Kolby Shimojima added.

“Playing with this team was the most fun,” Jackson Bui said.

Tigard, after winning the District 4 championship, won its first five games at the state tournament, including a 15-5 semifinal victory over Pendleton (see related story), before being tipped by Hermiston in the nail-biting title contest.

“This is what youth baseball is all about,” Tigard manager Greg Bui said. “I’m very, very proud of the boys.”

Hermiston took the early lead in the state championship game, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning to go up 3-0. Gavin Hunter had the big hit of the frame for Hermiston with a two-run triple.

Tigard answered back in the top of the second inning, scoring three runs in the frame to tie the game at 3-3.by: DAN BROOD - NO ESCAPE -- Hermiston's Miguel Moreno (left) tries to leap away, but he is tagged out by Tigard first baseman Sean Murphy during the fifth inning of last week's state championship game.

Jack Hallam got things going for Tigard with a leadoff infield single. One out later, Joey Myers was hit by a pitch and Murphy singled to load the bases. Justice Jackson, who earlier reached base on a fielder’s choice grounder, then scored Tigard’s first run on a fielder’s choice grounder by Ty Penn. Shimojima then doubled to deep left field, driving in both Myers and Penn to tie the game at 3-3.

Hermiston reclaimed the lead, at 4-3, with a run in the bottom of the third inning. But, again, Tigard came roaring back.

Holden ignited a four-run fourth inning for Tigard with a one-out triple to right field. Then, after Brayden Smith was hit by a pitch, Penn smacked a two-run triple to left field, giving Tigard its first lead of the game, at 5-4.

Shimojima singled in Penn and, later in the inning, Mike McNamee scored on a Mike Brannon single to center field, giving Tigard a 7-4 advantage.

Now, it was Hermiston’s turn to try and come back. The team in purple scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, both coming in on a single by Chase Elliott, to trim the Tigard lead to 7-6.

Tigard loaded the bases in the top of the fifth inning, but was unable to score.

In the bottom of the fifth, Hermiston, getting a two-run single Carter Tolan, scored five runs to open up an 11-7 lead going into the sixth inning.

But, Tigard, even though it was down to its last chance, wasn’t about to give up.

Sean Murphy drew a one-out walk to get things started for Tigard in the top of the sixth inning. Hallam followed with an RBI triple to center field, making the score 11-8. That’s when things got really interesting.

Jackson drew a walk, Myers followed with a single to right field, driving in Hallam to cut the lead to 11-9. Aden Murphy then singled in Jackson Bui, who was pinch-running, to trim the margin to one, at 11-10.

“I had a ton of butterflies,” Murphy said.

Penn then reached base on an infield single, loading the bases with just one out. Shimojima then smacked a hard-hit ground ball to the left side for what looked to be a sure base hit, but Hermiston shortstop Sam Schwirse made an incredible backhand grab of the ball and then he threw an off-balance strike to home plate for the out.

by: DAN BROOD - GREAT TOURNAMENT -- The Tigard Little League ages 10-11 baseball team gathers after playing in the championship game of the Oregon State Tournament. Tigard was edged 11-10 by Hermiston in the title tilt. “Their shortstop made an amazing play,” Greg Bui said.

Hermiston relief pitcher Robert Sloan then coaxed an infield pop-out to end the game, wrapping up Hermiston’s 11-10 win.

“Credit to Hermiston. They came out and hit the ball,” Greg Bui said. “But I loved our comeback attitude. Our guys battled to the very last pitch.”

“That was the most fun game I’ve ever played in,” Hughes said. “I’ll remember this.”

“We heard everyone cheering,” Shimojima said.

Tigard, as a team, had 14 base hits in the championship contest.

Shimojima went 2 for 4 at the plate with a double and three RBIs. Hallam went 2 for 4 with a triple, a run scored and an RBI. Hughes went 2 for 2 with a triple and a run scored. Penn went 2 for 4 with a triple, two runs scored and two RBIs. Aden Murphy went 2 for 2 with an RBI and Brannon went 2 for 3 with an RBI.

Myers and McNamee added one hit apiece for Tigard.

Meanwhile, Tigard is already looking ahead to what should be a bright future.

“We’ll be back next year,” Greg Bui said with a smile.

The Tigard team’s coaches were Brian Murphy and Mark Murphy.

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