LA GRANDE GOES TO TITLE GAME
By Pat Perkins
Observer Staff Writer
ENTERPRISE The game ended so suddenly and dramatically that the La Grande Little Leaguers didn't realize for a few seconds they had won.
"I was standing on second and I didn't know if we scored," said Richie Carmichael, whose two-out double in the bottom of the sixth inning gave the La Grande 11-12-year-old all-stars a 5-4 win Thursday over Baker City at the District 3 Tournament.
Carmichael's bases-loaded hit scored two runs and put La Grande into Saturday morning's championship game. Baker dropped into today's loser-out game against Pendleton, which beat Ontario 4-1 Thursday.
"We finally came through with a clutch hit," manager Todd Nice said. "We had other opportunities in that game. We left runners. We finally got a hit when we needed one."
La Grande trailed 4-2 going into the bottom of the last inning, but Josh Homan started things off with a single. He was sacrificed by Ammon Kohler to second base, then scored on a single by Taylor Workinger, who moved to second on the throw home.
Woody Stockhoff's grounder moved Workinger to third, but Baker had two outs with the top of La Grande's lineup coming to the plate.
Anthony Nice was hit in the head by a pitch, and Zachary Nice walked to load the bases.
Baker replaced pitcher Cody Hensley with Tyler Smith, and Carmichael jumped on Smith's only pitch of the game.
"I thought the first pitch was usually a pretty good pitch," Carmichael said. "I saw it come off the bat."
The ball sailed to right center field, and the center fielder appeared to have it, but the ball fell to his left. Both Nices scored, but it was a few seconds before Carmichael realized La Grande had won the game.
The heat played a factor, although both teams kept themselves well hydrated. McKague struck out seven batters, including striking out the side in the second inning, but Baker got to him in the fifth. McKague's throwing error put the leadoff runner on second base, and Lowell Curtis' single tied the game at 2-2.
La Grande got two outs, but McKague walked a batter before giving up two run-scoring singles by Josh Baxter and Grant Marcum that put Baker on top 4-2.
"It's tough on a kid like that when it's close to 100 degrees and they throw a lot of pitches," Todd Nice said.
Zachary Nice replaced McKague and struck out Tyler Smith to end the inning. Nice had three strikeouts in 1 inning work.
"Zach came in and did a good job. Cody pitched a good game, too," Todd Nice said.
La Grande took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on Tyler Zacharias' pinch-hit, two-run home run. Zacharias also had a pinch-hit homer in the team's first game against Milton-Freewater.
Baker City 001 030 4 6 1
La Grande 020 003 5 11 3
Two outs when winning run scored.
Hensley, T.Smith (6) and D.Smith; McKague, Z.Nice (5) and Kohler, McKague (5). WP Z.Nice. LP Hensley.
Baker City hits Blankenship, Curtis 2, Baxter, Marcum, Fuss. RBI Curtis, Baxter, Marcum. SB Blankenship, Marcum.
La Grande hits Carmichael 3, McKague, Kohler, Zacharias, McIntosh, Workinger 2, A.Nice, Homan. 2B Carmichael. HR Zacharias. RBI Zacharias 2, Workinger, Carmichael 2. SB A.Nice.
Pendleton 4, Ontario 1
Jared Britten hit two home runs to lead Pendleton into a 5 p.m. losers bracket game today against Baker City.
Britten had a solo home run and a two-run shot, his second and third home runs in two days.
Tony Schachtsick got the win on the mound, striking out nine batters.