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McMinnville hosts the tournament featuring some of the top American Legion squads in the area

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Jacob Fitch was among the Newberg pitchers who put in a quality performance over the weekend, playing a key role in the 5-1 victory over Southridge on Friday in the first game of the Hydro Dental Tournament.

McMINNVILLE -- Continuing its winning ways, the Newberg Abby's baseball team rattled off four wins in a row over the weekend to capture a tournament championship at Linfield College.

The team beat Southridge 5-1 on Friday, Aloha 6-0 and Sprague 11-1 on Saturday, then handled Alpenrose 9-4 in the championship game on Sunday.

Abby's was 16-11 heading into its final two games of the American Legion summer season, riding high and feeling good as it continued to showcase marked improvement from the spring high school varsity season.

"The guys showed a lot of perseverance over a long weekend," coach Trey Watt said. "They were extremely selfless, playing for each other and we got to see the results on the field. The effort and energy they showed was all out all the time."

The tournament included a gem of a pitching performance from Connor Nipp, who was two outs away from a no-hitter before Aloha managed a hit in the bottom of the ninth.

Defensively, Abby's was locked in all weekend and that proved to be the difference in all four victories. It didn't hurt that they scored an average of 10 runs in the final two games of the tourney. The bats remained hot for a team that has seen an offensive uptick this summer.

"Defensively, we were phenomenal," Watt said. "We pitched really well and were totally committed in everything we were doing defensively. There was no hesitation and the guys' intensity level was phenomenal.

"There wasn't really one guy in particular that stood out. Every guy on the team contributed to what we did this past weekend and I'm so proud of how it worked out for them."

Four games in three days was a daunting task, but Watt said he was impressed with the resilience of his team and its ability to put together a quartet of complete, quality baseball games.

That has been the trend for the team as the summer has progressed – continuing to make legitimate improvement while holding its own with or defeating top opponents.

Alpenrose is a legitimate program and a fellow American Legion squad. For Abby's to come out on top of that matchup is a testament to their progress, Watt said, and they hope to wrap the season up with a couple more victories.

Abby's played Aloha on Monday night and finishes its season against Robinson Construction – a team comprised of players from Westview – at 4 p.m. Wednesday (July 17) in Newberg. A pair of wins would put the team seven games above .500 and provide the icing on the cake of a sweet run for this group.

For Watt and company, it's about managing expectations and not being satisfied with the results so far.

The team can't be complacent, he said, and the work they put in this summer needs to continue in the offseason, with individual work on tap for many of the players at various baseball academies along with weight training and conditioning.

"I think the guys understand that we haven't really proven anything yet," he said. "We're doing a really good job of buying into the process and having the success that we want to have.

"We also know that doesn't really effect the spring, so it's good to see we're doing things in the correct way."


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