The La Grande Juniors baseball team broke open a close game with seven runs in the seventh inning — all with two outs — to pull away for a 10-1 win over Gastineau Channel, Alaska, in its first game at the Junior West Regional Tournament Sunday in San Jose, California.
“We had several innings with guys in scoring position and couldn’t get them across the plate,” head coach Doug Schow said. “Pitching and defense kept us in it, and late in the game we fired at them.”
La Grande already held a 3-1 lead entering the seventh before it put the game well out of reach.
“We had a couple key hits (at the bottom of the order),” Schow said. “That’s what it takes, (stringing) a bunch of hits together.”
An error allowed Jarett Armstrong to score, and Cole Shafer followed with an RBI double to drive home Carter Peasley for a 5-1 lead. RBI singles by Lakoda Huff and Austin Higgins followed to push the margin to 7-1 before a pair of walks — the second to Armstrong with the bases loaded — forced home an eighth run. Sam Tsiatsos added an RBI single and Jace Schow scored on a wild pitch for the final margin.
“Once we scored about four runs that inning they started hanging their heads. We started pounding the ball,” Jace Schow said.
La Grande’s pitching staff — especially Jace Schow in relief — shut down the Gastineau Channel offense, allowing just one hit, a single by Caden Mesdag. Schow held the Alaskan state champs without a hit in the final 5-1/3 innings, striking out six batters and walking just one.
“He was pounding the zone,” Doug Schow said of Jace. “His offspeed pitches he was throwing for strikes. Our defense made a few plays behind him. I didn’t realize he didn’t allow a hit in the game. He just keeps battling. He impresses me each time he gets on the hill.”
Jace Schow walked the third batter he faced, but was flawless after that, with the only two batters to reach the rest of the game getting on via an error.
“I guess I was just on today. I was able to pound the zone, the curveball was working — everything was going my way,” he said.
Tsiatsos allowed one unearned run on one hit in 1-2/3 innings with two walks and three strikeouts.
Schow also led the way at the plate, collecting three hits and driving in a pair of runs. In all, La Grande had 10 hits from eight different players. Shafer drove in two runs to lead the team.
La Grande next plays Tuesday afternoon against Boulder City, Nevada.
“They are going to swing the bats, so we gotta stay on our toes on defense,” Doug Schow said of the next opponent.