Clackamas Little League Majors claim District 2 title, advance to state
The Clackamas Little League Majors All-Stars have some more baseball to play.
Brian Ostrin's RBI-single keyed a three-run seventh inning that lifted Clackamas to a 14-11 victory over Southeast Portland in Tuesday's Oregon Little League District 2 championship final at the Reynolds Little League complex in Troutdale.
Clackamas starter Zavier Alvarez got help from two relievers — Jace Eveland and Ostrin — as coach Chris Stephen's team bounced back from a 7-2 loss in the tournament opener to win three consecutive elimination games and advance to the eight-team state championship tournament in Bend.
"An absolutely gutty performance," Stephen said. "The first game, there was a lack of coaching and the kids came out a little flat. The second game was heart, the third game was effort, and this game was just a battle all around. The kids played really well."
In the final, Clackamas used a four-run fifth inning to take an 11-10 lead before Southeast Portland answered with a run in the bottom half of the fifth to draw even at 11-11.
After a scoreless sixth inning, Clackamas regained the lead in the seventh by sending seven batters to the plate and scoring three runs on two hits, one walk, a fielder's choice, and one Southeast Portland error.
Clackamas' Jace Eveland led off the seventh with a single to center and then gave way to pinch-runner Cole Althen. Jayden Mayers followed with a walk and then Jack Gibbon hit a sharp grounder to second that Southeast Portland misplayed into an error, allowing Althen to score the go-ahead run.
Ostrin then reached on an infield single to the right side that scored Mayers from third to make it 13-11.
Next, Benny Bowen at the plate and runners at first and third, Clackamas pulled off a double steal — Ostrin taking second and drawing a throw, which in turn allowed Gibbon to race home from third with the run that pushed the lead to 14-11.
In the home half of the seventh, Southeast Portland had a runner on first with one out when Mayers, the Clackamas left fielder, ran down a fly ball off Kingston McAdam's bat for the second out.
The game ended when Southeast Portland's Roscoe Mithoefer hit a grounder to Clackamas shortstop Nick Brighouse, who flipped the ball to second in time to erase the lead runner for the game's final out.
"We were a little sloppy on defense today, but we kept the bats rolling, we kept the effort and the intensity up, and the attitude was there," Stephen said. "The kids always felt they could win and they never gave up.
"These guys are survivors. They're really gritty, they know what they can do well, they know what they don't do well, and they play as a team."
Alvarez, the Clackamas starter, pitched the first two-plus innings, getting into trouble in the third when the first seven batters he faced reached base and Southeast Portland scored five runs on five hits and two hit by pitches to take a 9-7 lead.
Eveland took over on the mound and gave Clackamas 4 1/3 innings of strong relief, holding Southeast Portland to two runs on five hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
Ostrin finished up, needing to throw only eight pitches to get the final two outs and help send Clackamas to Bend.
Offensively, Clackamas got contributions throughout the lineup, starting with leadoff hitter Adam Ruiz, followed by Brighouse, Alvarez, Coco Nita, Eveland, Mayers, Gibbon, Ostrin, and Bowen. Greyson Smith, Ben Stephen, and Althen also played key roles off the bench.
"Everybody was essential," Chris Stephen said. "If somebody didn't get a hit, somebody else picked them up, so that's the team spirit."
Clackamas lost 7-3 to Southeast Portland in the opening game of the tournament, then turned around and scored a 5-3 win over Taborvilla, followed by a 10-3 win over Southeast Portland, setting the stage for Tuesday's winner-take-all final.
"Southeast Portland is a quality team," Stephen said. "I respect them, their coaches, and their fans. They did a really, really good job. And I respect my kids for bouncing back every inning.
"It was a see-saw battle today. We came in as the guest and we scored, they scored, we scored, and the kids never stopped, they never gave up."