PORTLAND — It's said that baseball can be a game of inches.
Well, a few inches here, or a few inches there, and things just might have turned out a bit different for the Tigard Little League Majors (ages 11-12) all-star baseball team.
But, as it turned out, the Tigard squad saw its stay at the District 4 tournament come to an end with a 2-0 loss to Raleigh Hills in a tourney semifinal game played July 3 at Alpenrose Stadium.
"The baseball gods weren't quite smiling on us tonight," Tigard manager David Jones said after the game. "A few hard-hit balls just found gloves. If things are a little bit different that way, maybe it would have been a different outcome, but that's baseball."
With the win, Raleigh Hills improved to 3-0 in tournament games to that point. Raleigh Hills also advanced to the July 5 tournament championship game, where it fell 15-1 to Murrayhill. With the loss, Tigard finished tournament play with a 2-2 record.
"It was a good tournament," Jones said. "The kids competed hard. I think they had high expectations, and rightfully so. It's a talented group, but we just ran into a night where it wasn't our night, so we just move on."
Tigard starting pitcher Miles Ott and Raleigh Hills starter Sam Hunt locked up in a pitchers' duel right from the start of the semifinal contest, although Tigard was able to threaten in the first couple innings.
In the top of the first inning, Ott reached first base on a Raleigh Hills error with two outs in the frame. Lusiano Lopez then reached base on a passed ball on strike three, with Ott moving to third on the play. But Hunt got out of the jam, getting an inning-ending strikeout.
In the top of the second, Tigard's Alex Pearson laced a one-out single to left field. Pinch runner Andrew Hergert moved to second base on a passed ball with two outs in the frame. But Hunt, again, got an inning-ending strikeout to keep the game scoreless.
Tigard threatened again in the top of the fourth inning, as Hergert hit a two-out double to left field. Pearson then ripped an opposite-field field line drive to left, but the it was right at the Raleigh Hills left fielder, who made the catch to end the inning.
"The liner to left found the glove," Jones said.
Raleigh Hills then was able to break through in the bottom of the fourth, with Charlie Austin hitting a leadoff home run. Raleigh Hills also took advantage of a walk and an error later in the inning to score again, giving the team a 2-0 lead.
Tigard tried to fight back. Ollie Jones hit an infield single with two outs in the top of the fifth inning. Owen Wright was then hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second. But a groundout ended the inning.
Hunt then put Tigard down in order in the top of the sixth inning, wrapping up Raleigh Hills' 2-0 victory.
"Their pitcher did a great job locating, and getting us to hit his pitches all night long," David Jones said. "It was just one of those games where things didn't go our way."
Tigard, as a team, had three hits in the contest. Hergert led the way with a double. Pearson and Ollie Jones had one hit apiece.
Ott, pitching the first two and two-thirds innings for Tigard, gave up no runs on one hit, while striking out five and walking one. Pearson, throwing the final two and one-third innings, gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits, while striking out four and walking two.
"They battled," David Jones said of the Tigard team. "It's a tough way to go down for a talented group of kids who had a pretty good run, and had a good year together. That was a tough way to end it, but they got a lot of good baseball ahead of them as a group."
Hunt, pitching all six innings for Raleigh Hills, gave up no runs on three hits, while striking out seven and walking none. Austin went 2 for 3 at the plate with a solo home run.
Prior to the semifinals, Tigard scored a 7-2 win over Southwest Portland in a tourney quarterfinal game played July 2.
Wright went 2 for 2 at the plate with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs in that contest. Lopez hit a home run. Ott doubled and drove in a run. Ollie Jones had a hit, a run scored and an RBI.
Wright and Hergert combined to pitch Tigard to the victory.
Other players on the Tigard team include Carter Jordan, Jack Williams, Conner Bok, Michael Harms, Owen Nichold and Dominic Taylor. Nate Taylor and A.J. Nichold were coaches with the team.
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