West Linn 14U stars beat Portland 8-0 in Babe Ruth Pacific Northwest regional semifinal
There was nothing and no one that could stand in the way of the West Linn 14U baseball team at regionals.
The Lions, serving as host team for the 10-team Babe Ruth Pacific Northwest regional tournament at West Linn High School from July 23-27, raced to six straight wins in the event, capping its run with a 3-1 victory over Kelso (the South Washington representative) on Saturday, July 27.
On the way to the tourney title, West Linn mowed down every team in its path, beginning with a 9-7 win over Brewster (the North Washington representative) on July 23, edging Calgary (the Alberta, Canada, representative) 3-2 on July 24, routing the Belgrade Bandits (the Montana representative) 17-0 on July 25, then hammering Klamath Falls (the South Oregon representative) 15-0 on July 26 to end pool play.
In its semifinal, West Linn stepped up again, racing past Portland Babe Ruth (the North Oregon representative) 8-0 on Saturday.
"This is a huge deal because we just have one left and our motto has been (counting down each game) and now it's the last one so that's exciting," said West Linn catcher Jack Fillion, who went 2 for 3 at the plate and drove in one run in the semifinal. "I went 2 for 3 today so that was good, but the rest of the week, I've mainly just been getting beaned."
For his part, West Linn pitcher Drake Gabel — he teamed with Danny Onion on a no-hitter, throwing five innings and holding Portland scoreless on no hits and four walks while striking out six — just wanted to contribute and get his team to the championship.
"I felt pretty good, just tried to throw strikes," Gabel said. "I like throwing the fastball a lot and then throwing a curveball sometimes."
On offense, West Linn took control immediately with four runs in the bottom of the first inning, loading the bases with Gabel (hit by a pitch), Aidan Duea (bunt single) and Jake Holmes (error) to set up Ryan VandenBrink's two-run single to center, Fillion's RBI hit to right and Jackson Curdy's run-scoring groundout.
West Linn added two more runs in the fourth inning when Gabe Howard walked, stole second, moved up on a passed ball and scored on a double steal, and Dylan Nance drove in Tyson Smith with a single that ricocheted off third base.
Fillion walked and scored on a double steal with two outs in the fifth to make it 7-0, and Max Allen scored his team's final run when he was forced home on a hit batter in the sixth.
That was more than enough support for Gabel and Onion (two innings, no runs on no hits and two walks with one strikeout).
"(Gabel) was throwing his fastball really well and then his curveball," Fillion said. "They were hitting the zone a lot, and for me, I like that."
Duea went 2 for 4 and scored once in the win, while Nance was 2 for 2 with one RBI.
West Linn 15, Klamath Falls 1: The Lions took off early in this one, scoring twice in the top of the first, then adding six in the second, five in the third and two in the fourth to leave Klamath Falls far behind.
VandenBrink led West Linn's 11-hit attack, going 3 for 3 with four RBIs and one run, including a two-run, inside-the-park home run in the second inning. Nance was tough, too, going 2 for 3, driving in three and scoring twice, while Smith had two hits and two runs, Holmes had one run and three RBIs, and Gabel added two runs and two RBIs.
Smith and Duea allowed just one run on five hits and no walks while striking out six.
West Linn 17, Belgrade 0: West Linn needed just 3 1/2 innings to dispatch Belgrade, pouring across nine runs in the first inning, five more in the second and three in the third.
The Lions saw five different players — Duea, Holmes, VandenBrink, Howard and Onion — finish with two hits each, with Duea and VandenBrink collecting four RBIs apiece, and Gabel and Smith scoring three times each in the win.
Pitchers VandenBrink and Onion allowed just one hit, two walks and struck out three in the victory.
West Linn 3, Calgary 2: The Lions won their second tournament contest in dramatic fashion, rallying from behind to score three times in the final two innings and beat Calgary when VandenBrink collected a walkoff single in the bottom of the seventh inning.
There, with the score tied at 2-2 and Duea at third after reaching base on an error, VandenBrink singled softly to right to win the game 3-2.
For West Linn, Allen got the start for West Linn, allowed just four hits and two runs over seven innings, striking out five and walking zero. On offense, VandenBrink and Howard each had two hits and one RBI, while Smith drove in the team's other run.
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