Winner goes to Irvine, Calif. for regionals

UPDATE: The Jefferson County 50/70 baseball team defeated District 2 champ Portland/Powell/Taborvilla 7-5 to win the state championship Wednesday. They will represent Oregon in the West Regionals, which begin July 19 in Irvine, Calif.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Jefferson County 50/70 baseball team claimed the district championship on July 2, and also won the state title with a 7-5 win against Portland/Powell/Taborvilla on Wednesday to advance to the West Regional tournament, which begins July 19 in Irvine, Calif.Coming off a big 11-1 win against South Central to claim the District 5 championship July 2, the Jefferson County intermediate baseball all-stars didn't have much time to celebrate.

The club opened state tournament play July 6, outside Medford in Gold Hill, and is currently one win away from making it to the championship.

“Top to bottom, we have been playing pretty well,” Jefferson County manager Phil Fine said. “The biggest difference between our two games is that we hit the ball in the second game.”

In the second game, Sunday against District 8 representative Central Point, Jefferson County looked like the team Fine has coached the entire year, he said. Jefferson County routed Central Point, 15-5.

“We finally started hitting the ball, plain and simple,” Fine said. “We came out and played hard and together.”

Jefferson County opened the tournament against the District 2 representative, a conglomerate of players from the Portland, Powell and Taborvilla leagues in the Portland metro area, with a 13-1 loss.

In an effort to conserve pitching for later in the tournament, Fine said the plan was to split his pitchers up in accordance to tournament pitch count rules. Fine did that, but oddly enough, the offense suffered, he said.

“I'm not sure what it's about, but whenever I split pitchers up like that, we come out flat,” he said. “We get out of our groove.”

Fine said the District 2 team is solid and a good ballclub, but they aren't anything special, he said.

“The score of the game wasn't indicative of how we match up with them,” Fine said.

by: BILLY GATES/THE PIONEER - Kanim Smith, seen here during the district tournament in Bend, had been a critical part of the JCLL intermediate team at the plate, and on the mound, during the tournament run.Kanim Smith had a pair of hits against Portland to open the tournament, and Fine said Smith was really the only one who hit well during the game – but what a difference a day makes.

Jefferson County followed up the 1-run performance with a 15-run outburst against Central Point, further proving the point that 12- and 13-year-old kids are as predictable as the numbers a Keno machine spits out.

“You just never know what you're going to get sometimes,” Fine said. “The goal is to come out and play well as much as possible, but sometimes the kids just have an off day, and there's not much else you can do about it.”

In district play, Jefferson County was tested by both Sisters and South Central in the first two tournament games, and Fine said that has definitely helped his team at the state tournament.

“I'd put South Central up against anyone at this tournament,” he said. “They're a good ballclub, and they definitely made us better. We had to work hard to beat them.”

As long as the club hits, Fine said, they should be able to earn a rematch with Portland for the state championship, which would happen if the team beat Central Point on Tuesday. That game happened after the Pioneer's press deadline, and the result was unavailable.

Jefferson County will have to play one more game, if they are to beat Central Point again, then Portland, but Fine said his pitching staff will be ready to go at full steam. Smith, along with Lewis Fine, Cam Rodriguez, Jared Holliday and Tyler Lockey will be available for the potential championship run.

In the tournament format, teams played each other once for seeding, and then they will enter a single elimination bracket. Jefferson County's run differential gave them the No. 2 seed over Central Point. Each team has a 1-1 record. Portland/Powell/Taborvilla is 2-0 after they beat Central Point on Monday.

“From what I've seen, we definitely have a shot to win this thing,” Fine said. “Hopefully we bring our bats with us the rest of the way. If we show up and play our game, we can compete with anyone.”

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