No loser’s bracket grind in this year’s Oregon Independent Baseball Association championship tournament.
For the first time in the tournament’s tenth year, it is a single-elimination bracket. Only one higher seed departed early and that came in the final game of opening day.
Sunset scored five runs in a critical third inning to take the lead for good and upset Dr. Barney 10-8 Wednesday night to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals. All of the other higher-seeded teams won on the opening day of the 16-team tournament at Wilsonville High School.
Sunset scored unearned runs in each of the first two innings, capitalizing on the first two of Dr. Barney’s six errors in the game. But the Skyhawks mounted a two-out surge in their half of the second inning to take a 3-2 lead. With two outs and a run in, Connor Fajardo walked and Trevor Barth and Joe Ball followed with consecutive RBI singles, knocking Sunset starting pitcher Kaito Wilson out of the game.
The Apollos went with the soft-tossing junior to try to slow down the Skyhawks’ bats. Unfortunately for the Southridge squad, no one could slow down the red hot Sunset offense.
With two outs and no one on base in the third inning, the Apollo Merchants strung together five consecutive hits and seven straight batters reached base. Three Southridge errors led to extra bases and nine batters came to the plate, with five scoring, giving Sunset a 7-3 lead.
Apollos senior Coleman Newsom retired seven straight batters after coming on in relief of Wilson to get the final out in the second. In the fifth inning, Southridge got to Newsom for three hits and two runs, capped by Zach Hald’s two-RBI single to left. But Michael Ball was thrown out at third trying to advance for the second out in the inning and Newsom struck out Mark Walstrom to end the rally.
The Apollos answered with a three-run sixth that started with Sam Winter’s leadoff triple. Jared Campbell plated Winter with a line drive off the glove of reliever Trevor Barth. With the bases loaded, the ‘Hawks nearly got out of the inning with a spectacular double play after shortstop Connor Fajardo made a diving stop of Tomo Horie’s grounder up the middle and flipped the ball to second with his glove hand. But Ball’s relay throw was wild to first, allowing two runs to score and putting Sunset up 10-5.
Dr. Barney would make it interesting, scoring a run in the sixth and loading the bases with none out in the seventh to bring the tying run to the plate. Michael Ball led off the inning with a base hit to right off Newsom and after a pair of walks, Sunset head coach John Barnes turned to Loggan Davis. Davis balked home a run, but retired the next three batters with a pair of strikeouts to earn the save.
The Apollos finished with 13 hits with eight of their nine starters contributing at least one. Isaac Lovings had two hits and two runs scored and Wintle had two hits with two RBI and a run scored. Tyler Sumner scored twice and drive in a run. Barth had three hits for Southridge, while Joe Ball and Zach Hald each drove in two runs.
The Apollos move on to face the Tigard Longhorns, who won a tense, back-and-forth battle with Grant 6-4. The Longhorns scored three run in the sixth inning, taking advantage of a badly missed call on a grounder down the third base line by Joey Cavalli that appeared to be about a foot-and-a-half foul. Ruled a hit, that put runners at first and second with none out. Sophomore shortstop Tyler Penn followed with a sacrifice bunt toward first that turned into a two-base throwing error. Later in the inning, Fletcher Ahl drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to center and Lance Kreisburg beat out an infield hit to score an insurance run. Manny Andrade pitched a scoreless seventh inning to polish off a complete game victory. Penn also tripled and scored and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Kreisburg, C.J. Rivers and Ethan Clark all reached base three times for the Longhorns.
Westview’s Robinson Construction got a strong pitching performance from graduated senior Keegan Huey and three hits and three runs scored from incoming freshman Mason Guerra in a 6-11 win over Oregon City. All of the production came from the bottom of the Wildcats’s order as Bo Willoughby went 2-for-2 with a triple and four runs batted in and Jack Pilat scored two runs. The ‘Cats will face West Linn in the quarterfinals Friday after the Lions defeated Sherwood 3-1.
In other first round games…Jesuit defeated Gladstone 4-2, Lake Oswego blanked Lakeridge 6-0, Lincoln hammered McMinnville 11-6 and Clackamas made short work of Sandy with a five-inning, 13-2 win.
OIBA games resume Friday with quarterfinals at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday the Futures Tournament has first-round games at Wilsonville, with alternating quarterfinals at 10 and 4 on Friday.