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Rain, Raleigh Hills no match for Cedar Mill

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - The Cedar Mill 11-12 year-old all-star team celebrates Mick Abel's three-run homer in the second inning of the squads runaway 17-2 win over Raleigh Hills in the District Four Championship Game on Sunday.

Mick Abel provoked the lightning both from the mound and the batter’s box.

Hayden Skiba brought the thunder.

Gavin Meader produced the precipitation.

On Sunday, in between storm cells and dicey mid-summer thunderstorms at Alpenrose Stadium, the Cedar Mill Little League All Stars conclusively clobbered their way to a convincing, 17-2, win over Raleigh Hills in the District Four Majors Tournament championship game.

In a marathon contest that lasted nearly four hours because of multiple weather delays due to thunder and lightning, Cedar Mill outlasted its Beaverton rival with an offensive explosion, clubbing three cosmic home runs and collecting a herd of hits to advance to the Oregon state tournament this week.

When this talented squad reconvenes on Friday at Alpenrose for the start of the Oregon tourney it’ll do so as the first Cedar Mill 12-year-old team ever to represent District Four.

“They came into this year on a mission,” said head coach Kevin Meader. “They were focused, worked very hard and kept their eye on the prize. This is a talented bunch. They pitch. They hit. They have a lot of baseball savvy. We just kind of have the right mix. This is the stuff we played against being Cedar Mill, but never had ourselves. So, this group is that group. We’re formidable at this point.”

“We just have to play Cedar Mill baseball,” said Skiba. “That’s hard pitching and hard hitting.”

“We have to be confident,” said Cedar Mill relief pitcher James Porter. “We have to play to the best of our ability because there’s going to be some good teams there. We just have to play our game.”

With the game tied at zero in the top of the second, Cedar Mill’s Ryan Ready and Ethan Wilson singled and advanced to second and third on a Porter sacrifice fly to bring Abel to the plate. Abel — Cedar Mill’s starting pitcher and seventh hole hitter — worked the count against Raleigh Hills’ John Oleson and dumped a 2-2 belt-high offering over the leftfield fence with a level, even cut that handed his squad a 3-0 lead.

“I didn’t really realize it was going over until I hit it,” said Abel. “I kind of hit it off the end of the bat. It was a smooth swing, just free and easy. It felt great. I think it really gave the team confidence. We scored a bunch of runs the next couple innings, and I think that’s what set us up.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Cedar Mill second baseman Loggan Davis slides safely into third in the fourth inning of the 11-12 all-star squads 17-2 triumph over Raleigh Hills.

Abel’s shot was seismic, sending a tidal wave of momentum toward the Cedar Mill dugout. Yet, Cedar Mill wasn’t close to finished.

Skiba — who said he’d been in a recent slump prior to the title game — emphatically broke out of the funk in the fourth following the first weather delay, flogging an Oleson fastball over the left-center fence with the bases full of Cedar Mill comrades to give his squad a commanding 9-1 lead.

“I just said to myself, ‘Watch the ball and you can hit anything’,” said Skiba. “That’s how I hit it. We came to the plate with discipline. We took our best pitch and just smashed it.”

The runs kept coming in as Kaito Wilson bagged an RBI with a double to extend Cedar Mill’s lead to 10-1.

An RBI single by Raleigh Hills’ Joe Schwab cut the deficit to 10-2, but Gavin Meader answered with a soaring, opposite-field, two-run homer to right-center that pushed the lead up to 12-2. From the top of the order to the bottom, Cedar Mill found constant sources of offensive production, getting base knocks from each all-star on the roster. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Raleigh Hills pitcher Johnny Oleson threw a one, two, three first inning against Cedar Mill on Sunday.

“When a seven-or eight-hole hitter hits it over the fence I think it makes the other team give up,” said Kevin Meader. “They go, ‘We can’t compete with that’. It’s an intimidating thing.”

Porter and Connor Kollas also drove in runs in the fifth, keeping the pressure on a skilled Raleigh Hills squad.

“That’s the kind of hitting this team is used to,” said Kevin Meader. “They hit the ball out of the park. We got home runs from the seven and eight hole today (Abel and Gavin Meader). And, my cleanup hitter (Ethan Wilson) didn’t hit one in this tournament. We ended up with seven kids hitting home runs this tournament.”

Porter said he didn’t come out throwing as hard as normal, but caught his second wind after the fifth-inning delay and was able to slam the door on Raleigh Hills.

Abel avoided trouble in the first, when the righty froze the dangerous Sandrey Mitberg with a backdoor off-speed offering to strand a Raleigh Hills runner on third. Second baseman Loggan Davis and Gavin Meader behind the plate were sound defensively as well, making spectacular stabs in the field to help Abel’s cause on the hill.

Over the Memorial Day weekend during a holiday tournament in Bend, Cedar Mill and Raleigh Hills locked horns in a regular season contest that Raleigh Hills won.

A team accustomed to winning, having won the 11-year-old state tourney last year and rolling through the district as 12-year-olds, Kevin Meader said the loss was a wakeup call of sorts for his confident bunch. Suddenly, Cedar Mill understood they weren’t bulletproof. On any given day defeat could be lurking around the corner, something Cedar Mill reminded each other of while sitting in the dugout on Sunday as Mother Nature wreaked havoc overhead.

Motivated to redeem themselves and make a little history in the process, Cedar Mill played with a controlled fury, striking the first good pitch available and making sure each swing was strong and true.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Raleigh HIlls catcher Curtis Posner dives back into third base in the District Four Championship Game on Sunday.

“These kids took that loss personally and showed what they’re made of,” said Kevin Meader. “It helped gain the perspective we needed. We were getting used to winning, so that was a good loss because it helped us refocus. As coaches, we were pleased with that outcome because we knew it would sharpen everyone’s pencil and we’d get a lot better.”

Raleigh Hills starting pitcher John Oleson said his squad didn’t play its best with a couple of uncharacteristic errors and empty at-bats. Yet, Raleigh Hills hung tough and battled with a Cedar Mill team that simply ran on all cylinders on Sunday.

“We didn’t play a complete, all-around game, but we tried our hardest and that’s really all that counts,” said Oleson.

“We tried our best, and we’re one of the luckiest teams to be here,” said Raleigh Hills outfielder Kenny Luafutu. “We had a lot of fun this season. We were always joking around the whole time. That’s what I loved about this team.”

Oleson felt the two long delays — one in the fourth and the other in the sixth inning — weren’t the deciding factors in the game, though the righty said the holdups did throw off his rhythm on the mound.

In the top of the fourth after the teams quickly retook the field rushed through warmups following the first element-driven holdup, it was Cedar Mill who capitalized with Meader’s momentum-swinging grand salami.

“It was pretty crazy,” said Raleigh Hill utility man Brenden McNear. “We just tried to play our best. It’s just too bad it had to end like this. We’re proud we made it to the championship game, but it would’ve been better if we won it and gone to state.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Cedar Mills' Danny Hext, James Porter and Will Harrington celebrate the 11-12 all-star squads 17-2 district championship win over Raleigh Hills.

Oleson and Raleigh Hills roared out of the starting gate in the first inning, retiring Cedar Mill’s first three hitters on just seven pitches. Oleson punched out two of the batters on three pitches, giving Raleigh Hills an early surge of momentum.

“It felt good to come out hot, but you gotta have more than one inning where you can do that,” said Oleson. “I really only had two innings where I pitched really well. I felt liked I pitched OK, but it wasn’t my best.”



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