July 23, 2002 11:00 pm

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

A pitching duel didn't go La Grande's way Sunday at the Oregon Little League Baseball Boys Majors State Tournament in Salem.

La Grande was dropped from the tournament after a 4-0 loss to Murrayhill Little League.

La Grande opened the tournament Saturday with a 9-7 loss in seven innings to the Medford Americans.

"What we showed is with a couple less errors here and there, we could have just as easily been sitting 2-0," La Grande manager Todd Nice said.

La Grande pitcher Zachary Nice held Murrayhill to just two hits, including a drag bunt single to start the game. Murrayhill's second single didn't come until the bottom of the fifth inning, but it came at the perfect time for the Beaverton team.

Murrayhill had the bases loaded — on two errors and a walk — when the batter sent a bloop single to right field. The ball got past the right fielder, and three runs scored.

"We played pretty good defense up until that one inning," Todd Nice said. "That fly ball that that kid had hit was the first ball that left the infield."

Nice doublechecked, and only two balls left the infield for Murrayhill all game.

"Zach pitched a great game. That was a pretty good team."

Murrayhill's pitcher, M.Matthews, scattered seven hits over six innings, but he struck out 13 batters, many of them with runners on base.

"We put the ball in play and got runners on, but once we got runners on, he just slammed the door on us," Nice said. "He really kicked it up to another gear.

In one inning, Josh Homan led off with a double, and La Grande had runners on second and third with nobody out, but Matthews got three-straight strikeouts to get out of the jam.

"He was left-handed and he probably threw at more velocity than anybody we've seen," Nice said.

Murrayhill has advanced to the losers bracket final with a 7-0 win over Brookings-Harbor and a 12-2 win over Clackamas. Murrayhill will play Medford tonight for the right to play Parrish of Salem in Thursday's championship game.

La Grande 000 000 — 0 7

Murrayhill 000 04x — 4 2

Z.Nice and McKague; Matthews and Hope. WP — Matthews. LP — Z.Nice.

La Grande hits — A.Nice 3, Carmichael, McKague, McIntosh, Homan. 2B — Homan.