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The Observer Paper 12/22/14

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By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

La Grande Rain Roofing will defend its American Legion Baseball Class "A" Northwest Regional Baseball Tournament title through the losers' bracket.

The Sumner (Wash.) Bandits cruised to a 10-1 lead then held off a determined La Grande rally for a 10-8 victory Friday night in the tournament's first round.

La Grande scored seven unanswered runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but couldn't master left-handed Justin Childs in the ninth.

"We had our little lefty come in and keep us there," Sumner coach Mike Olson said. "Those boys battled back. That's a good ball club over there."

La Grande will play Glendive, Mont., at 7:30 tonight at Optimist Memorial

Field. The loser-out game was originally scheduled for 12:30 p.m. but was moved to the night game to accommodate the host team.

In today's other loser-out game, Mountain Home (Idaho) met Valdez (Alaska) this morning. At 12:30 p.m. today, Richland (Wash.) will play West Albany and at 4:35 p.m., Cheyenne (Wyo.) will play Sumner.

La Grande's momentum Friday turned on Tanner Mellinger's sixth-inning home run with Zack Glasser on first base. It only cut Sumner's lead to 10-3 at the time, but it got the crowd into the game for the first time and dented

Sumner pitcher Marc Shoemaker's armor.

Shoemaker had given up three hits through five innings, two of them to Glasser.

"Once Tanner hit the home run, the momentum shifted there, but it was too big a hurdle to overcome," La Grande coach Wes McAllaster said.

"It just works that way. It's tough to get that stopped and going in the other direction," Olson said.

Glasser, La Grande's shortstop, went 4-for-5 at the plate, and his seventh-inning home run trimmed the gap to 10-5. Jason Smith doubled later in the seventh inning and scored on a single by Tyler Davis.

In the eighth, a sacrifice fly by Dollen Stroup scored Corey Royal, and a throwing error on Sumner shortstop Craig Britt allowed Shane Slover to score, cutting the lead to 10-8.

Childs pitched the final two innings, retiring the last four batters he faced.

Sumner could have had a bigger lead early in the game. The Bandits had the bases loaded with one out in the first inning but got just one run on a ground out by Alex Rawlings. Nick Hagadone homered in the second inning, and Sumner again loaded the bases, but La Grande pitcher Aaron Thomas got out of the jam with a routine ground ball.

Thomas left in the fourth after giving up his second home run of the game, to Shoemaker. That two-run shot came after a two-run double by Jeff Ireland; those runs gave Sumner a 6-0 lead. Royal came in to pitch, but the Bandits added a run on Kyle Clegert's single.

Royal gave up three more runs in the fifth, two of them unearned on three La Grande errors. Shoemaker's two-run double (he had four RBIs) put the Bandits on top 10-1.

After that, Royal retired eight in a row and didn't give up another hit.

"Corey did an outstanding job," McAllaster said. "He came in a real tough situation in terms of no warmups; he just came in from the outfield."

Royal struck out nine while giving up five walks.

Glasser scored La Grande's first run in the fourth inning on a controversial play. With Glasser on second and Mellinger on first, Smith hit a towering fly ball to the left field fence. Left fielder Hagadone appeared to catch the ball, but he didn't, and Glasser sprinted home. Mellinger thought the ball was caught and went back, while Smith went past him.

Smith left the field, thinking he was out, and during the umpires' discussion he returned to first base. But he was called out for passing

Mellinger on the base paths.

Another baserunning error ended La Grande's sixth-inning rally. Slover's bases-loaded walk scored Davis, and a fly ball by Thomas appeared to be deep enough to led Shaugn Watson score from third. It wasn't, and Watson held up, but Royal sprinted from second to third, forcing Watson to try for home.

Caught in a rundown, he was picked off trying to get back to third and the inning was over.

Sumner WA 110 530 000 - 10 8 2

La Grande 000 103 220 — 8 10 4

Shoemaker, Childs (8) and Clegert; Thomas, Royal (4) and Slover. WP —

Shoemaker (1-0). LP — Thomas (0-1). Sv — Childs (1).

Sumner hits — Ireland 2, Shoemaker 3, Hagadone, Montgomery, Clegert. 2B —

Montgomery, Ireland, Shoemaker. HR — Hagadone, Shoemaker. RBI — Rawlings,

Hagadone, Ireland 2, Shoemaker 4, Clegert. SB — Dodge.

La Grande hits — Glasser 4, Smith 2, Mellinger, Royal 2, Davis. 2B — Smith.

HR — Mellinger, Glasser. RBI — Smith, Mellinger 2, Slover, Glasser, Davis,

Stroup. SB — Glasser.

Cheyenne 8, Glendive 7

The Cheyenne Hawks finally won a one-run game.

Gabe Gutierrez scored from third base on a two-out wild pitch to give the Wyoming champions the victory in the first round of the American Legion Baseball Northwest Regional Tournament.

Glendive pitcher Greg Ford had almost gotten out of the jam, striking out two batters after Gutierrez had reached third on a pair of Glendive errors.

"I was getting nervous, but I knew someone would get it done," Gutierrez said. "We just didn't want to lose another one-run game, especially in a tournament like this."

Cheyenne advances to play Sumner, Wash., at 4:35 p.m. today. Glendive plays La Grande Rain Roofing at 7:30 tonight at Optimist Memorial Field.

"We've played about half a dozen extra-inning games and we've lost nine one-run games, so maybe the tables are turning," Cheyenne manager Jerry Storebo said. "We thought about squeezing. We had our No. 4 and No. 5 hitters up there and I thought that one of them would put the barrel on the ball and lift one."

Instead, Ford's pitch was over the head of catcher Kraig Zimmerman and sailed to the backstop. Gutierrez scored easily.

"There's no one hurting worse right now than Greg Ford," Glendive coach Chad Jones said. "With the way we were playing, it was just a lack of execution, and the kids knew it."

Glendive controlled the game through the fifth inning. Derek Ford celebrated his 19th birthday by hitting a three-run home run in the first inning. Chase Downs, whose 16th birthday is Saturday, grounded home a run in the fifth inning to make it 4-1. Ryan Lystad, whose birthday was also Friday, singled home a run in the sixth inning. That was followed by an RBI-single by Matt Iba to make the score 6-2.

Cheyenne finally got to the Ford brothers in the bottom of the sixth. The Hawks got four hits and a walk off Derek Ford, who yielded to his brother after just one out. Greg Ford promptly gave up two bases-loaded walks to tie the game, but he struck out the final two batters.

Glendive moved ahead in the seventh on a ground out by Derek Ford that scored leadoff batter Tim DeKaye. Cheyenne tied the game at 7-7 when Grant Gering's single scored Charlie Payne.

"We did a lot of great things, and it just didn't go our way," Jones said. "We're going to make a bid for it."

Cheyenne pitcher Gavin Wiljakainen went the distance and settled down after giving up Derek Ford's birthday homer. He had five strikeouts and survived his teammates' seven errors.

Cheyenne's first two runs came in the third and fifth innings. Gering scored on a wild pitch in the third, and Paul Garcia's single in the fifth brought home Wiljakainen.

Glen. MT 300 012 100 — 7 9 2

Chey. WY 001 014 101 — 8 10 7

Two outs when winning run scored.

D.Ford, G.Ford (6) and Zimmerman; Wiljakainen and Anthony. WP — Wiljakainen (1-0). LP — G.Ford (0-1).

Glendive hits — D.Ford 2, Iba 2, Bakken, Lystad, Downs, G.Ford, DeKaye. HR — D.Ford. RBI — D.Ford 4, Downs, Lystad, Iba. SB — DeKaye 2.

Cheyenne hits — Gering 2, G.Gutierrez, Payne, Wiljakainen 2, Garcia, Anthony, Melander, J.Gutierrez. RBI — Garcia 2, J.Gutierrez, Wiljakainen, Coonts, Gering. SB — Payne.


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