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Union County 13 year olds beat Snake River Valley twice, advance to state tourney
The Union County 13-year-old Babe Ruth all-star team swept Snake River Valley on Saturday to win the District 3 championship and advance to the state tournament.
UC won the opener, 11-7, before holding on to an 8-5 decision in the nightcap to avoid a possible winner-take-all third game.
“I was really pleased with how they played today,” UC manager Lee Atkinson said. “Pitching was all-in-all really good. Kids threw well. For the first time in a while, they all hit the ball today — very few strikeouts. And fantastic defense. By far, our defense was what kept us in both games.”
UC jumped all over SRV for six runs in the first inning of the opening game.
Bryant Gerdes scored on a fielder’s choice to get Union County on the board, before Cody Dubray drew a bases-loaded walk.
An RBI single by Logan Atkinson, a bases-loaded walk by Caleb Lathrop and a two-run double by Gerdes capped the big first inning.
Snake River was able to get a run in the fourth and three in the fifth to cut the lead to 6-4, but UC answered with three runs in the sixth to get some cushion and eventually held on for the win.
That put Union County in the drivers seat entering the nightcap, knowing a win would advance it to state.
After both UC and SRV picked up a run each early on, Union County put up two runs in the third inning and three runs in the fourth to build on its lead.
“We knew after that first game when they were coming back on us that we had to push it harder that second game,” Lathrop said.
Just like in the first game, SRV had a run in them.
But, also like in the first game, Union County had an answer.
Snake River put up four runs over the final three innings, but UC countered with two runs to keep the lead secure.
“All of our coaches were saying (SRV) was going to come back really hard the second game because (SRV) didn’t want us to win,” Gus Ramsden said. “But we did what we could to win.”
Gerdes and J.C Leonard both finished the game 2-for-4, while Ramsden was 2-for-3. Chance Frederick and Derek Williams both added one hit.
Atkinson started the game and went two innings, striking out two. Wade Rynearson got the win, pitching three-plus innings and sitting down four.
“It feels good (to win district),” Williams said. “I think there were a few errors but overall I thought we did good.”
Union County will now prepare for the state tournament that begins July 16 in Baker City. Union County opens with The Dalles and then Pendleton, before facing a pair of teams from Tualatin Hills.
“We need to work on knowing what to do with the ball when it’s hit to us and our batting,” Williams said. “I hope we do good (at state). I hope we win our first two games and advance.”
Atkinson is confident in his players heading to Baker City.
“They’re a great bunch of kids,” the coach said.
“They’re enthusiastic, they work hard and they always keep their heads up no matter how bad the situation gets.”