by: COURTESY PHOTO: JIM ROBISON - The Beaverton Aloha 50/70 all-star team rolled to Oregon State Tournament Championship last week, beating its opponents by a combined 43-12.

What put the Beaverton Aloha 50/70 all-stars head and shoulders above the state wasn’t one dominant, hulking hurler or man-sized power hitter single-handedly carting the all-stars to a state title last week in Troutdale.

Beaverton Aloha exercised total control of the Oregon State Tournament last weekend, winning four straight games by a combined score of 43-12, including two shutouts because its whole was greater than the sum of its parts. In unison, the all-stars liquidated some of the best Little League programs in the land, by getting chip-ins from various players in different games, and they advanced to the Little League Western Regional Playoffs in Nogales, Ariz., starting this week.

The across-the-board contributions spoke not only to the all-stars talent level, but their depth and ability to bring guys off the bench without missing a beat.

“We don’t have a lot of prima donnas or superstars on the team, but as a team, we all pulled together when we needed to,” said head coach Shane Patrick. “It was a different guy every day, which is something we’ve always valued as a coaching staff. The kids really pulled together, and we got it done. We had a lot of guys who could step up in different situations.”

One day it was 12-year-old Phoenix Goerlich grabbing the ball on the mound, going to work like an ace against kids a full year older than him and almost throwing a no-hitter.

The next game it was the unsung Lucas Banning, who wasn’t one of Beaverton Aloha’s primary pitchers, but nearly blanked one of the all-stars’ single-elimination games.

Connor Patrick put on a stellar hitting display throughout the tourney, going 8-10 at the dish in the squad’s first two games with two doubles and a triple. He also started on the mound for Beaverton Aloha’s championship game and helped the team roll to a 14-7 win over West Salem on Thursday. Dean Clark, Michael Dugan, Chace Fairy, Travis Helm, Samuel Kim, Diego Robison, Yusef Shareef, Wyatt Wahlstrom and Noah Wolf all had moments in the limelight that pitched into Beaverton Aloha’s — the Special District Four’s delegate — state banner.

Patrick said great pitching was “the most important thing” to Beaverton Aloha’s success because of his small-ball style of managing. Generally, the all-stars tried to keep the score from ballooning, and getting quality outings on the bump was fundamental in that cause.

“I always feel really good pitching will win out over the offense,” said Patrick. “We had a lot of different offensive strategies other than trying to go out and pound the ball. If you’re hitting your spots and holding a team down, then you don’t need as many runs on your side to actually win the game.”

by: COURTESY PHOTO: JIM ROBISON - The Beaverton Aloha 50/70 all-star team will represent Oregon at the West Regional Playoffs in Nogales Arizona this week.

Drag, sacrifice and drop-down bunts were all part of the team’s offensive attack to enhance its sound pitching staff. Some of Beaverton Aloha’s key hitters grew in size and stature in the past year, and therefore hit the ball with greater authority and distance. However, small ball was the base of Beaverton Aloha’s offense and the driving force taking the team to Arizona.

The core of Beaverton Aloha, which consists of 12-and 13-year-old competitors has played together for the past three years, including a second place district finish to Lake Oswego last season. The team was announced June 15th and started practicing nearly three hours a day in preparation for state.

“We just make sure we’re working the fundamentals when it comes to bunting, stealing and really good base running,” said Patrick. “We work really hard on those things. A lot of our practices are focused on just doing those types of drills that help you score runs.”

Beaverton Aloha will act as Oregon’s representative at the Western Regional Playoffs, which kicks off this week. First and foremost, Patrick said, he wants his team to enjoy the experience because so few teams ever get a chance to reach.

“We don’t want the pressure to overwhelm them, but at the same time, we’re representing Oregon,” said Patrick. “We want to do as good as we can in the tournament. We want to see if we can get to the next level. The talent’s there. We’re going to take it one game at a time, go right after the first team, and see what we can do.”

There are two pools of six teams that will play each other within each pool. Then, the top two teams from each pool will come together and face off in a final four, single-elimination bracket until there is a champion. The all-stars flew down to Arizona early in order to get down to the Valley of the Sun, adjust to the surroundings and get back to the normal practice routine.

“Everyone knows what’s at stake, so we don’t spend a lot of time psyching the kids up,” said Patrick. “We rely on the fact that they know what the score is. They know what they’re up against. We really focus more on that they’re relaxed and acclimated to the environment that they’re in. The coaches really work hard on the strategy part, so the kids can just focus on having fun and playing the game.”

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