Local stars rally to tie Oregon All-Star Series 1-1
After two years of missed games, missed seasons and missed opportunities, Oregon's best high school baseball players were determined to get as much as possible out of 2022.
So that's just what they did, capping their high school careers in the Oregon All-Star Series, a two-game set between North and South teams at Goss Stadium on the Oregon State University campus Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19.
In the end, the two teams split the series, with the South taking Saturday's nine-inning game 8-3, while the North rebounded to grab Sunday's nine-inning finale 10-2.
While the North stars — including La Salle's Aidan O'Brien, Lakeridge's Gus Rogers, Mason Utech and Zach Johnson, Clackamas' Trevor Wilson and Jackson Jaha, Wilsonville's Cole Hubka, Lake Oswego's Kellen Krebs and Blaise Heher, and West Linn's Jeremy Levasseur —obviously wished they'd won both games, they chose instead to celebrate their time together on the diamond.
"The best part was just hanging out with all these guys that I've known for pretty much my whole life, through club ball and showcases," said Rogers, who was named the Most Valuable Pitcher for the North after throwing two scoreless innings and picking up the win on Sunday. "Just being able to play with them one last time before we eventually go off to college — it's a lot of fun just being around them."
"This was a lot of fun," said Rex Putnam shortstop Vinny Salvione, who went 1 for 2 with a double, a walk and one run scored on Sunday. "It was fun to come down here with all these dudes and play together. We've played together our whole lives, so one more time, it was fun."
"I think the best part was just hanging out with these guys," added Clackamas outfielder Jackson Jaha, who went 2 for 7 overall, with one RBI and two runs scored. "We've all grown up playing with each other and to come together for the last high school experience is pretty cool. It's good competition."
"The best part was hanging out with all the guys," said Lake Oswego outfielder Blaise Heher. "I've played with these guys pretty much all of high school or least summer ball … so it was kind of fun to cap it off with this."
Jesuit's Nelson Keljo was named the Series' Bob Brockman MVP after throwing three scoreless innings on Saturday, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out eight, and going 2 for 3 at the plate with two runs on Sunday.
South 8, North 3
The North led 1-0 through 4 1/2 innings in Saturday's opener, with Keljo and Reynolds' Steve Kovac pitching, but the South rallied late, pouring across eight runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh frames to pull away.
Sheldon's Taylor Langworthy went 2 for 2 at the plate with a double, two RBIs and two runs, while Willamette's Dillon Butler finished 1 for 3 with three RBIs to pace the South offense. Corvallis' Garrett Holpuch — later named the South's Most Valuable Pitcher — threw three scoreless innings, allowing no runs on two hits and no walks while striking out two.
For the North, Johnson went 1 for 4 and knocked in two runs, while Hubka, Jaha, Utech and Heher added one hit each — Heher's a double — in the loss. O'Brien threw two innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three.
North 10, South 2
The North left no doubt in its Sunday victory, pushing across three runs in the bottom of the first and adding one in the third, two in the fifth, one in the seventh and three in the eighth to tie the Series 1-1.
"It was fun," said Heher, who went 2 for 4 with two RBIs in the win. "I hadn't had very many live (at-bats) since the season ended so it was fun to get out here and kickstart the season."
"Losing the way we did (in the Class 6A state semifinals) was a pretty rough way to go out so I was glad I was able to come out here and play a few more high school games," said Jaha, who went 1 for 3 with a double, one RBI and one run scored.
Salvione kicked things off with a leadoff double to left and scored the game's first run on a single to left by Cleveland's Alex Nisbet. The North also got RBIs in that at-bat from Wilson and Heher to lead 3-0.
After the two teams traded runs in the third, Jaha's run-scoring ground-rule double to left and Heher's RBI groundout boosted the North's lead to 6-1 in the fifth. In the seventh, Johnson led off with a single to center and later scored on a two-out single by Grant's Cole Snidow.
And in the eighth, Nisbet drove in two runs with a double to center and scored on a wild pitch for the final 10-2 margin.
Rogers picked up the win after facing just seven batters in the fourth and fifth innings, keeping the South scoreless on no hits and no walks while striking out one.
"All I had to do is just throw strikes — that was the key to success," Rogers said. "If I just keep it low, low and away, they're going to roll grounders and hit lazy pop ups."
Johnson, Jaha and Wilson all finished with one hit in the win, while Johnson closed the game with a scoreless ninth, allowing no runs on no hits and one walk while striking out one.
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