Lake Oswego Majors all-stars beat Montana, secure Series berth
The 2021 Lake Oswego Majors all-star team is ready to go where few teams have gone before — all the way to the Little League World Series.
Lake Oswego beat Montana 12-1 in the semifinals of the Pacific Northwest Regional tournament on Friday, Aug. 13, and in the process, secured its berth into the Little League World Series, set in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, from Aug. 19-28.
Because international teams are excluded from the Series this year based on COVID-19 precautions, the Lakers (3-1 in regional play) are already guaranteed a berth in the Series. See the accompanying story on the team's reaction to winning its Series berth here.
"I think our team played very good," said Lake Oswego's Ryan Warhank, who went 1 for 2 at the plate drove in two runs and scored once against Montana. "We could tell from the start that the other team was a little tired and quiet so we took advantage of that."
"I think the team played great," said LO third baseman Beckett Heher, who went 0 for 1 at the plate, knocked in one run and also scored once. "We started off a little slow, but then caught fire."
With its Friday win, Lake Oswego advances to the PNW tournament championship at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, against Sammamish Little League — the Washington state champion and a team that beat LO 5-0 in their regional opener.
If Lake Oswego — already the District 4 and Oregon state champions — beats Washington to win the PNW regional, it will open World Series play against Texas at 7 p.m. Friday Aug. 20; If the Lakers finish second in the PNW regional, they will open World Series play against the winner of the Mid-Atlantic Regional at 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20.
Regardless of what happens against Washington, the Lakers knew they'd played well again in winning their third straight game at regionals.
"I think our team played well tonight," said Lake Oswego outfielder Kell VanDehey, who went 1 for 2 at the plate and scored once in the win over Montana. "It was a close game at first and then we rallied and scored some runs."
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Indeed, the two teams battled through three scoreless innings and were still tied 1-1 after the fourth when Lake Oswego took over. But when the Lakers took over, they took over big-time, pouring across eight runs in the top of the fifth frame, then adding three more in the sixth to forge their 12-1 victory.
Pitcher Ben Robertson played a huge role in his team's semifinal win, throwing all six innings and limiting Montana to one run on six hits and one walk while striking out three.
"I think what was key is that our pitching was very good," VanDehey said. "Ben was on his 'A' game on the mound today."
As nerve-wracking as those first four innings must have been, Lake Oswego made them seem like a distant memory by the end of its at-bat in the fifth. Starting the inning at 1-1, the Lakers sent 12 batters to the plate, banged out six hits and took advantage of two hit batters and two walks to push ahead 9-1.
Key moments in that frame included RBI fielder's choices by Chase Kelly and Robertson, RBI singles from Crew Corry and Cole Sturgeon, and a run-scoring double by Ethan Uecker.
Then, after a 1-2-3 sixth by Robertson, Lake Oswego added its final three runs in the top of the sixth, getting an RBI single to left from Jackson Caylor and its final two runs on an error on VanDehey's grounder to shortstop.
With their World Series berth in hand and a shot at the PNW Regional championship available on Saturday, the Lakers say they'll be ready.
"Now that we have the opportunity to win regional, I am just going to try and get on base and drive some runs in," VanDehey said.
"To win the regional, we will need to hit and field at our best because Washington is a good team," Heher added.
For the game, Kelly went 1 for 3 with two RBIs, and Bayne, Robertson, Uecker, Caylor, Heher and Sturgeon drove in runs.
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