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Junior Federal team claims gold by defeating rival Sherwood 11-8 in the state championship game

COURTESY PHOTO - Newberg Junior Federal baseball won the state title by defeating Sherwood, winning 11-8 and capping off a 30-5-1 season.

On July 24 the Newberg Junior Federal baseball team was in Nonna Emilia Italian Restaurant in Aloha celebrating the teams 30th win on the season. It was there, crowded around the red and white checkered tablecloths amd still in uniform, that the importance of that victory started to settle in.

The team of fifth- and sixth-grade student athletes were state champions. And they beat one of the premier teams in the state to achieve it, downing the Sherwood Sliders Junior Federal team 11-8 in the seventh meeting of the season.

According to coach Jared Jensen, he knew from the outset that the team had the potential to win it all.

"I told the team back in March, I'm like, 'You guys are good enough to be state champs,'" Jensen said. "'You guys probably shouldn't lose a game all season.' We did. But you gotta also lose to figure out how you're going to get better too, also. But I think the kids actually started believing."

Heading into the championship game, the team had run up an impressive 29-5-1 record and was propelled by the strength of a three-game win-streak. Part of that streak included defeating championship opponent Sherwood 6-4 in the penultimate game of the season.

Newberg never trailed in the title game, jumping out to a 6-2 lead by the end of the third inning. By the top of the fifth inning, Newberg was up 10-4. Sherwood mounted a comeback but it was too little too late and Newberg won 11-8.

Heading into the game, Jensen said he knew that his team had shown improvements at the plate, routinely putting up double digit runs and getting hits. It was no different here: Newberg recorded nine hits with Landry Jensen leading the way with three hits and three runs in four at-bats. In the fifth inning, Nico Boock homered to centerfield to bring in Roy Corpus.

According to Coach Jensen, the pitching of Corpus and Landry Jensen was solid all year, but the growth of Greysen Casteneda and Boock from the mound helped lead to the team's success. It was Casteneda who got the win after pitching four innings, allowing six hits and four runs while striking out four and giving up no walks.

The team is poised to head into junior high and high school ready to contribute. Coach Jensen are working with Newberg High School baseball coaches Andrew Reichenbach and Andrew Mason to streamline the transition.

"I've worked with them trying to get their philosophy in, from like, 'Okay, I want to make sure I'm teaching the correct stuff,' or using the same language in a way that when they get in there, they're like, 'Oh, boom, we just keep moving forward," Jensen said. "They can start working on their stuff with them. So, I did in March, actually was probably January, February, started working with Andrew and Robbie Mason to make sure we're all on the same page. I think that's going to be crucial really from this age on up for the next couple of years."

Jensen was quick to distribute his appreciation to the staff and the players for the successful season.

"I'm just super proud of (the players)," he said. "I mean, they did it. They got to do it. They have to put the time in. And also with the coaching, I want to thank all my coaches, too. I have a huge coaching staff. I got seven volunteer dads that are there every practice, every game. But yeah, I'm just super proud of the whole team."

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