The La Grande Juniors All-Star baseball team struggled against a California pitching staff for the second straight game as it collected just three hits in a 6-1 loss to Livermore, Northern California, Friday afternoon in the West Regional Tournament in San Jose, California.
“Our bats didn’t come around. Seemed like every time we hit, the ball went right at someone,” head coach Doug Schow said. “We hit a lot of balls those last two games right at people, and they made plays.”
The loss eliminated La Grande from the tournament in third place, exceeding expectations set by Schow at the start of the season with the majority of the players being athletes who were new to him.
“These kids put in a lot of hard work. They’ve surpassed where I thought we would end up,” he said. (They’ve been) playing as a team and having fun. From where we started out to where we ended up, these kids made huge strides. They improved every day and they got better.
“I’m super proud of how they played.”
Livermore took the lead for good against La Grande with a four-run first inning. Tanner Griffith hit an RBI single, and Nate Keaney had an RBI double to bookend a two-run error for the big frame for Livermore.
Livermore added single runs in the fifth and sixth inning on an A.J. Arante sacrifice fly and an RBI groundout by Griffith for a 6-0 lead.
La Grande, which collected a hit in the third inning to end a nine-inning hitless streak, finally got on the board in the seventh when Jarett Armstrong scored on a balk. Armstrong had walked to begin the frame, one of two times he earned a free pass in the contest.
La Grande starting pitcher Sam Tsiatsos shook off the tough first inning — all the runs scored before an out was recorded — to toss five innings. He allowed five runs — three earned — on six hits, walked three batters and struck out nine. He allowed just one hit following the first inning.
Armstrong tossed the final two innings, allowing one run on two hits and striking out two batters.
Livermore starter Tristan Webb held La Grande in check, giving up just three singles in seven innings. He walked four batters and struck out one.
Golden Hill, Southern California, which had defeated La Grande a day earlier in the semifinals, topped Livermore 13-3 Saturday in the championship.