UNION WINS DISTRICT: 14-year-olds rally in Game 2 to win title over Harney
In the battle for the 14-year-old district crown, Union County did battle with Harney/ Grant in a best of three series.
But Union only needed two games to claim the championship, taking the opener 11-7 before outlasting the visitors 15-14 in a marathon Game 2.
In Game 1, the teams traded blows in the opening inning, each striking for three runs each.
But Union County was able to get some breathing room in the third inning when it went for three more runs.
An Alec Cranford two-run triple in the fourth added to the lead. Cranford later scored in the inning to make it 6-3.
Harney chipped away with a run in the fifth and three more in the sixth, but UC responded in the bottom of the sixth with two runs and held on for the four-run victory.
Ross Duncan pitched five innings, struck out one and allowed five hits.
Cranford was two for three with an RBI.
That victory set up a must-win Game 2 for Harney/Grant.
And the way both teams played, it was apparent that the district title was on the line.
A back-and-forth game that saw both teams hold the lead came down to the final inning.
Harney/Grant rallied from an 11-4 deficit to take a 14-11 lead after scoring six runs in the fourth and four runs in the fifth inning.
But Union County didn’t fade away after blowing the seven-run lead.
In the top of the sixth, Ray Jiminez scored to cut the lead to 14-12.
Cranford led off the top of the seventh with a single, before Vermillion got on base with a bunt single.
That brought Isaiah Cranford to the plate as the go-ahead run.
Cranford was able to tag the ball and send it into the gap into left-center, and using his long stride turned it into an inside-the-park home run to put Union County on top, 15-14.
“I was due for that hit,” Cranford, who was one for four up to that point, said.
“They had me working on a different stance, and I kind of went back to my other stance.
“They had me trying not to drop my shoulder, and I went back to it.”
Not only did he revert to his old ways at the plate, Isaiah Cranford also passed up the bunt sign that Manager Matt Duncan had given him.
“He didn’t bunt. He hit it to the fence,” Duncan said.
“I put the bunt sign on and he didn’t want to do it.”
Harney/Grant had one last chance to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t muster anything and UC was able to hold on for the district title.
“They’ve always been a last inning team,”
“Even during league, we won probably six games in the last inning. They’re all such great athletes, they can just turn the switch on and away they go.”
Jimenez finished four for four at the plate with two RBIs.
Alec Cranford was two for three, while Isaiah Cranford was two for five with three runs batted in.
UC used four pitchers throughout the game, but Vermillion was credited with the win.
Both teams were already guaranteed a spot in the state tournament, but who won or lost the district title was to decide which team would enter as a No. 1 seed and which would enter as the No. 2 seed.
As it stands now, Union County will be the top seed when the state tournament kicks off in Bend.
“We’re going to have two solid weeks of good practice now, and we’ll have all 11 kids in every practice,” Duncan said.