The TNT squad picks up its second straight dramatic World Series victory

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - WINNING SMILES -- Tigard/TC's (from left) Bella Valdes, Brooke Clinton and Elizabeth Hillier are all smiles following the team's 2-1 victory over Puerto Rico Sunday at the Little League Softball World Series.PORTLAND — If nothing else, the Tigard/Tualatin City Little League Majors all-star softball team sure seems to have a flair for the dramatic.

Getting dramatic World Series victories, that is.

The Tigard/Tualatin City squad, for the second straight day, came from behind and then held strong at the end, as it scored a thrilling, hard-fought 2-1 win over ASOFEM Little League, from Manunabo, Puerto Rico, in a Little League Softball World Series pool play game played Sunday at Alpenrose Stadium.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - THERE IT IT -- Tigard/TC shortstop Bella Valdes (left) goes for the ball while Puerto Rico's Omaris Torres heads to second base in Sunday's Little League Softball World Series game.“Holy crud,” Tia Cordts, the winning pitcher in Sunday's game, said with a smile after the victory. “It's happening now.”

“That was really, really fun,” Tigard/Tualatin City center fielder Carly Atwood said.

“It was awesome,” Tigard/TC outfielder Leah Sandoz added.

“This was huge,” said Nicole Box, who knocked in Tigard/TC's first run of the game. “I like winning.”

With its fun, awesome, huge, dramatic, come-from-behind victory, the Tigard/Tualatin City team, which rallied to score a 7-5 win over Prague, Czech Republic, on Saturday, finished its World Series pool play schedule with a 2-2 record.

The 2-2 mark keeps the team's hopes of earning a World Series semifinal berth alive.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - LEFTY, RIGHTY -- Above, Tia Cordts picked up the pitching victory in Tigard/TC's 2-1 win over Puerto Rico on Sunday. Below, Elizabeth Hillier recorded her second straight World Series save on Sunday.Photo Credit: DAN BROOD -     “That's what I really want,” Cordts said.

The talented Puerto Rico squad, the Latin America champion, moved to 1-2 in World Series play with the setback.

“This was a huge win, and a lot of fun,” Tigard/TC manager Chris Cordts said. “Puerto Rico is a great team. They play great defense, second to none.”

With that great defense, and with Tia Cordts seemingly on top of her game in the pitcher's circle, it became apparent early that runs would be at premium in Sunday's World Series contest.

That said, Puerto Rico got a key run in the top of the second inning. Paola Perez reached first base on a Tigard/TC error with one out in the frame. Pinch runner Perla Morales moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Karmany Gonzalez and then she scored on Shalis Torres' clutch two-out double down the left-field line, giving the Latin America champs a 1-0 lead.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - READY TO LAUNCH -- Tigard/TC catcher Alexis Klum gets ready to make a throw on a stolen base attempt in Sunday's game.Tigard/TC catcher Alexis Klum prevented any further damage, and she threw out Torres as she tried to steal third base, with shortstop Bella Valdes making the tag.

Tigard/Tualatin City, the Oregon District 4 representative, tried to answer back in the bottom of the second. Emily Harms walked on a 3-2 pitch with one out in the frame and she moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Elizabeth Hillier. But Harms was left stranded.

Gonzalez, Puerto Rico's starting pitcher, then put the TNT squad down in order in the bottom of the third inning.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - I GOT IT -- Tigard/TC first baseman Emily Harms catches a popped-up foul ball for an out in Sunday's World Series game.That left Tigard/Tualatin City still facing that 1-0 deficit going into the bottom of the fourth inning. But the team didn't seem to be losing hope at all.

“We don't ever give up,” Tia Cordts said. “We keep fighting to the end.”

That attitude certainly seemed to pay off — in a big way — for Tigard/TC in the fourth inning.

Klum drew a walk to lead off the inning for Tigard/Tualatin City. Cordts followed with a line-drive single to center field, with Klum moving up to second base on the hit.

The next Tigard/TC batter, Brooke Clinton, belted a line drive deep to center field. But Puerto Rico center fielder Omaris Torres, sprinting toward the fence, made a reaching catch to rob Clinton of an extra-base hit, likely saving two runs.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - BIG PLAY -- Nicole Box gets her bat on the ball to drive in Tigard/TC's first run of the game in the 2-1 victory over Puerto Rico on Sunday.But Tigard/Tualatin City wouldn't be denied.

Jennifer Redfern drew a walk to load the bases with one out, bringing Box to the plate for her first at-bat of the contest.

“There was a little pressure,” Box said with a smile. “But I used that pressure to make myself try harder.”

Box smacked a hard grounder toward Puerto Rico second baseman Joanlly Rodriguez, who had to block the ball before she could get a grip on it. That allowed the speedy Klum to easily beat the throw to the plate, tying the game at 1-1.

“That felt great,” Box said of her game-tying RBI.

“That's how Nicole has hit all year long,” Chris Cordts said.

After Box's clutch RBI, Tigard/TC turned to its aggressive base running. With Tia Cordts on third base, Puerto Rico reliever Yessenia Vazquez threw a wild pitch. With no hesitation at all, Cordts broke for home plate. She scored easily to give Tigard/Tualatin City a 2-1 lead.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - EQUALIZER -- Tigard/TC's Alexis Klum (left) crosses home plate to tie Sunday's game at 1-1.“I just said 'I'm going to score,'” Tia Cordts said. “And I did.”

After Cordts scored, Sandoz drew a walk to load the bases again with one out in the inning. But Puerto Rico turned a 1-2-3 double play to get out of the frame without allowing any more runs.

Both teams went down in order in the fifth inning, setting up the dramatic final frame.

Puerto Rico's Nahommy Morales walked on a 3-2 pitch to lead off the top of the sixth. Hillier, who picked up the save in Saturday's win, took over the pitching duties at that point.

Morales moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Katyjushka Rivera. Morales, representing the potential tying run, then advanced to third on a groundout by Yanielis Virola.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - ALL TOGETHER -- The Tigard/Tualatin City team walks off the field following the 2-1 victory over Puerto Rico Sunday at the Little League Softball World Series.Hillier then got Thalianette Noble to hit a pop fly toward Clinton at third base.

“It went up right at me,” Clinton said. “Then it just kind of stopped. It was like it was moving in slow motion, like in the movies.”

The ball landed right in Clinton's glove, wrapping up the 2-1 victory.

“That felt so awesome,” Clinton said. “I could hear all of the crowd cheering.”

“You should have seen Chris,” Box said.

“This is great,” Clinton said. “We gave ourselves a chance to keep playing the game we love.”

“It's awesome,” Atwood said. “And it's been so cool to play teams from other countries.”

Tia Cordts, in picking up the pitching win, gave up just one unearned run on four hits while striking out eight and walking one in five-plus innings of work.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - THUMBS US -- Tigard/Tualatin City manager Chris Cordts gives his approval following Sunday's victory at the Little League Softball World Series.“I tried to be on my game,” she said.

“She was unbelievable,” Chris Cordts said. “When she changes speeds, like she did today, she's unhittable.”

Hillier, in getting her second straight save, retired all three batters she faced.

“I like that combo,” Chris Cordts said.

“I used to be rivals with Liz,” Tia Cordts said. “She played for Tigard, and I played for Tualatin. But, now, I love playing on the same team with her. She's so nice.”

Tigard/Tualatin City had a pair of hits in the contest, singles by Valdes and Tia Cordts. Klum, Atwood, Sandoz, Redfern and Harms each drew a walk.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - BE LOUD -- The Tigard/Tualatin City players and coaches put their hands in following the win Sunday at the Little League Softball World Series.The World Series semifinals are set to be played at 3:30 and 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Tigard/Tualatin City, if it doesn't get a semifinal bid, will finish play at the World Series on Wednesday, either playing in the seventh-place game at 9 a.m., or the fifth-place game, at 11:30 a.m.

For more on this game, and Tigard/Tualatin City's other Little League Softball World Series games, see the Aug. 14 issue of the Tigard/Tualatin Times.

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