The American Legion’s
La Grande Legacy Ford Legends 17U baseball team showed a flair for the dramatic during the Legacy Legends Wood Bat Battle this weekend at Pioneer Park.
Three times in four games, La Grande allowed the tying run in the top of the seventh inning.
And all three times the Legends found a way to earn a walk-off victory.
It culminated with
La Grande winning its home tournament by topping Pendleton, 6-5, in Saturday afternoon’s championship game on a game-ending sacrifice fly by Isaac Zamora in the bottom of the seventh.
“This group is picking up where the guys before them have always been,” Head Coach Parker McKinley said of the team’s never-quit approach. “It’s something that we’ve always taken pride in. We’re going to go until the last out is made. We’re not going to quit. We’re going to expect to win every game.”
La Grande did just that in the tournament, going a perfect 3-0 in pool play before winning the title game of the four-team tournament. On Friday the Legends beat Pendleton, 4-3, in eight innings and topped Baker, 8-1. They finished pool play with an 11-10 win over Hermiston.
Hermiston beat Baker, 8-5, in the third-place game.
“This weekend we really got our bats going, and our pitchers worked really hard,” infielder Justin Frederick said. “We had guys going deep almost every game. The defense just made plays. We backed them up pretty well.”
It wasn’t easy for the Legends in three of those four games. McKinley, though,
attributed the seventh-inning comebacks La Grande faced to those teams sharing La Grande’s fight-to-the-finish approach.
“(We were) playing against teams that were battling to the end. It was a good weekend of teams getting after each other,” McKinley said.
Pendleton rallied twice against La Grande, including in the title game.
La Grande starting pitcher Wyatt Earp, who pitched a complete game for the win, got two quick outs to open the seventh inning with
La Grande up 5-4. But a two-out infield single and an error allowed the tying run to score.
That hardly fazed the Legends.
“Our team just has a lot of character, and we never give up,” Zamora said. “If something goes bad, we’ll always have other guys picking each other up.”
Gus Ramsden earned a walk to open the bottom of the seventh, stole second, then moved to third base on a wild pitch.
Zamora then came through with a deep fly ball to drive Ramsden in and win the game and the tournament.
“I was just thinking (get a) good ball to elevate in the air and get deep so he can tag up and get the game-winning run,” Zamora said.
La Grande took a 3-1 lead in the second inning on an RBI groundout by Kyler Malone and an RBI single by Flynn Nave, and extended the advantage to 5-1 in the third on RBI singles by
Payton Cooper and Malone.
Earp allowed three earned runs on six hits with two strikeouts and four walks. His was the latest of what McKinley called four good efforts by La Grande’s starting pitchers in the tournament.
“I would say Gus Ramsden, Isaac Zamora, Brody Kincade and Wyatt Earp, all four of them came and threw solid games and threw a lot of innings for their team,” the coach said. “(They) kept us in games, helped us compete and win.”
La Grande 4, Pendleton 3: The Legends won their first game of the tournament in walk-off fashion after surrendering the tying runs.
Ramsden had thrown six shutout innings and went back to work in the seventh with a 3-0 lead, but Pendleton scored three times in the seventh inning to tie and ultimately send the game to extra innings.
In the bottom of the eighth, Frederick hit a leadoff single, stole second, moved to third on a bunt and scored the winning run when Malone reached on an error.
Daniel Rogers pitched an inning of relief for the win. Ramsden took a hard-luck no decision, allowing three runs on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
La Grande 8, Baker 1: Zamora and Justin Comfort both had three RBIs, and
La Grande broke open its late game Friday with a
six-run third inning.
Zamora hit a two-run double to start the scoring in the decisive inning, and Comfort finished it with a two-run single for an 8-0 lead.
Zamora was also strong on the mound, allowing just one run on four hits in six innings with a walk and four strikeouts.
La Grande 11, Hermiston 10: Frederick hit a bases-loaded RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to boost La Grande to a win
after the Legends surrendered a five-run lead.
Riley Miller and Riley Gregg both hit RBI singles during a five-run first inning. La Grande scored four more in the fifth, polished off by a two-run single by Blaine Shaw, to go up 9-4.
But Hermiston scored four runs in the sixth inning to get within 9-8, then evened the score at 10-all in the seventh.
Kincade settled down after a three-run first to pitch five innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits with four walks and three strikeouts.