by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Raleigh Hills Little League All-Stars Josh Oleson and Blake DAmbrosio wait for Sondrey Mitberg at home plate after Mitbergs three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning against Lake Oswego.

The last three outs of a baseball game are the hardest to sew up, especially when the foe you’re trying to put away sneaks away from defeat not once, but twice in the same game.

No squad discovered this more directly than the Raleigh Hills Little League 11- to 12-year-old Majors squad on Monday against Lake Oswego as the all-star team built a pair of reassuring five-run cushions only to see them evaporate in the balmy Alpenrose Stadium air.

Lake Oswego trailed 6-1 going into the sixth, yet erased the deficit with four base hits and three walks to even the score, 6-6. Then, after a two-RBI double from John Oleson and a three-run moonshot blast by Sandrey Mitberg that gave Raleigh Hills an 11-6 lead in the top of the seventh, Lake Oswego responded, drawing five straight walks, a two-RBI double and a game-wining RBI single with two outs for the 12-11 win.

“The seventh didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but we learn from it and we’re ready to go on,” said infielder Blake D’Ambrosio. “We have to throw strikes, and at the end of the game, always finish with three outs and finish it out strong.”

“I thought we had it in the bag, but I was wrong,” added pitcher Joe Schwab. “We played really well offensively, but defensively we have to cut down the errors.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Raleigh Hills Little League All-Star third baseman Josh Oleson crushed Lake Oswego with five RBIs and three doubles during the 11 and 12-year olds loss on Monday.

The pool-play loss had little bearing on Raleigh Hills’ standing in the 11-12 Majors district bracket as the all-stars will most likely play in the semifinals on Saturday. Many of the Raleigh Hills’ starts saw the defeat as a setback to absorb, grasp and rinse away. There are bigger games with greater importance on the near horizon, though Raleigh Hills agreed closing out games is pivotal moving forward.

“We played pretty good. We just had a few rough times,” said D’Ambrosio. “We made a few mental errors, but we kept our heads up. At the end of the day, we lost. But we fought to the best of our abilities, and we’re ready for our next game. This was a learning experience, and it’ll just help us to be stronger as a team and play as a team.”

“We didn’t play as we hoped in the last inning, but we’ll get ‘em next time,” said outfielder Ethan Flynn. “I’m definitely excited for the rest of the week. I’m sure we’ll see (LO) again, and I’m sure we’ll see Cedar Mill and Tigard again. We’re looking to win.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Raleigh Hills Little League All-Star pitcher Josh Daul struck out 10 batters in more than five innings of work for the 11 and 12-year old squad versus Lake Oswego.

Fired up

Behind the dominance of starting pitcher Josh Daul and the dialed-in Raleigh Hills bats, Flynn and company constructed a commanding 6-1 lead in the top of the fourth. Trent Walker walked to lead off the stanza, and Curtis Posner followed with a perfect bunt single in front of the dish. One batter later, Oleson obliterated an outside fastball to the right-center fence that doled Daul a 2-0 lead. Daul was controlling for most of the afternoon on the hill, striking out 10 and allowing just three hits before getting pulled in the fifth due to a mandated pitch count.

The first time through the order, D’Ambrosio said, Raleigh Hills wasn’t seeing the ball, which only agitated the all-star squad’s bats.

“We got mad, because we felt like we should’ve been hitting,” said D’Ambrosio. “Once we got to the second time in the order, we just got the bat on the ball and got fired up in the dugout. It helped our batters do well.”

“We cracked the pitcher,” added Schwab. “We tried to make (the pitcher) waste pitches and make him throw perfect. We had those three good hits and got ahead.”

Daul doused LO by striking out the side in the fourth. Then, D’Ambrosio backed his hurler’s quick work with a two-out, two-run double that plated Brenden McNear and Kenny Luafoto. And, Oleson continued to rake at the dish, clubbing another deep double to the wall, which scored two more, 6-0.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Raleigh Hills Little League All-Star Curtis Posner rounds third base and heads for home in the third inning against Lake Oswego.

Flynn made arguably the play of the day in the bottom of the sixth after LO chalked the bases with just one out. LO’s fifth-place hitter blasted a frozen rope to straight away center that at first glance was seemingly well above Flynn’s head.

Yet, the 5-foot-10 outfielder timed his leap perfectly, sprung into action with his glove high in the air and snared the shot for the second out of the inning. Mitberg caught a pop-up in foul territory off the bat of LO’s following batter for the final out of the sixth.

“I knew if I didn’t catch that ball, the game was over,” said Flynn. “It was a ripped shot, so I just had to clutch up and make the catch.”

Fired up from Flynn’s flight, Raleigh Hills raced into the dugout ready to hit and erupted for five more runs, two off the bat of Oleson and the other trio from Mitberg, who mauled a fastball into the Alpenrose parking lot.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Raleigh Hills Little League All-Star rightfielder Joe Schwab fires a ball back into the infield against Lake Oswego.

“In the dugout, we stayed pumped the whole game,” said Flynn. “We just have to keep getting hits and keep staying pumped because the minute we go down, that’s when we stop scoring runs.”

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