Pio Pack reaches semifinals at Ripken Regionals
The Sandy Pack 12U all-stars put together a perfect 4-0 record through round-robin play at last weekend's Cal Ripken regional tournament in Meridian, Idaho.
Sandy's biggest challenge from the early phases of play came Friday with a 6-5 win over Mission Valley out of Montana.
Deadlocked at 2-2, the Pack made their move in the fourth inning when Fisher Winchester was hit by a pitch, and teammates Brayden Sievertsen and Jack Jansen connected for back-to-back singles to load the bases. Ashton Culp was next into the batter's box, watching four straight balls go past to earn a bases-loaded walk to push Sandy into the lead.
Johnathin Silvis sent a two-run single to center field to stretch the margin to 5-2 before the inning was finished.
The Pack made it 6-3 in the fifth when Max Green stole second base, which put him in position to get home on Kobe Sparks' ground ball into right field.
After setting Mission Valley down in order in the bottom of the fifth, Sandy found itself three outs away from a perfect record in pool play.
But the squad from Big Sky country would not go down easily.
A double and a single to start the sixth inning, allowed Mission Valley to bring the tying run to the plate.
"Mission Valley put some good swings on the ball and amped up the pressure," Sandy head coach Mike Kosderka said.
Sandy picked up two of the required outs when Hunter Dunham and Green each came up with catches in the outfield.
But Mission Valley came up with another single-double combination to slice the margin to 6-5 with the bases loaded. Sandy's Sievertsen gloved a ground ball cleanly and shortstop and beat the hitter by a half-a-step with his throw to first base to end the game.
"This is the first time this summer that we've faced any type of danger," Kosderka said. "The boys had plenty of chances to roll over, but they kept their composure, kept battling and pulled off the win."
Sandy put the game's first runs on the board with a pair of two-out hits by Matthew Kosderka and Winchester in the first inning.
Dunham and Cole Younger combined to strike out nine batters before Silvis came to the mound in the sixth to close out the victory.
Sandy secured the No. 1 seed into bracket play with a 7-4 win over Umpqua Valley out of Roseburg earlier in the day.
Deadlocked 3-3 heading into the final inning, Sandy put up four runs in the sixth to take the win. Kosderka and Winchester came up with back-to-back singles to start the inning, while Younger sent a sacrifice fly ball to center field that scored Sievertsen with what proved to be the winning run.
"We have kids who can absolutely mash the ball, but they are also willing to lay down the bunt and play small ball," Kosderka said. "That brings us a lot of versatility."
Silvis beat out an infield grounder that scored two more run to increase Sandy's lead to 8-4.
Sievertsen gobbled up a grounder at shortstop to end the game, preventing the tying run from stepping out of the on-deck circle.
The Pack opened the tournament with a 10-0 win over Alberta Select with Winchester throwing an eight-strikeout, no hitter. Jansen hit 3-for-3 and scored three times.
Sandy made it an opening-day sweep with a 6-0 win over the Nampa Rampage out of Idaho. The top five hitters in Sandy's lineup combined to go 7-for-13 (.538), while Green got the start on the mound, striking out six while surrendering one hit. Sievertsen was called on to get the final two outs, needing only three pitches to end the game.
"We got great pitching, and our defense was flawless — just not giving anything up — that put us off to a great start," Kosderka said.
Pack falls to Kennewick in Regionals semis
Sandy saw its run at Regionals come to a close Saturday morning with a 7-2 loss to Kennewick, Wash., in the tournament semifinals.
Kennewick scored in five of the first six innings to build a 7-0 lead before Sandy scratched its way onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth on Ashton Culp's line drive to center field. Jack Jansen would single on a grounder to second base to add the team's second run.
Sandy retired the side in order in the sixth with Garrett Head picking up two of the three outs from his spot at second base.
Head would reach on an error in the bottom of the sixth, but that proved to be all that Sandy could manage in its final at-bats.
This story is slated for our July 24, print edition.
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