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East County sweeps series vs. Aloha

Late rally lifts Reynolds to Game 3 with Southridge
by: David Ball, East County third baseman Cory Pursel drops a bunt in front of home plate in the seventh inning of the Knights' 5-4 win against Aloha on Sunday.

The East County Knights worked overtime Sunday to beat Aloha 5-4 and complete a first-round series sweep in the AAA American Legion metro-area playoffs.

The Knights took a commanding 3-0 lead into the ninth inning only to see host Aloha force extra innings with a bases-loaded walk, followed by a two-run single into shallow center field by Travis Holz.

East County regained the lead in the 12th inning on a series of two-out singles. Austan Mason accounted for the winning run by slapping an RBI-grounder through the left side for a 5-3 lead.

'The heat was brutal today and about halfway through the game you could see the intensity drop on both sides,' East County manager Garet Luebbert said. 'I gathered the guys before the 12th inning, and told them it was time to take some risks or we were going to be out here all day.'

Aloha threatened to extend the game again with another bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 12th, but a strikeout by East County reliever Greg Bobnick ended the game with the tying run at third base.

The Knights won the series opener 6-1 on Saturday night, led by pitcher Ryan Morales with 15 strikeouts in eight innings of work.

Reynolds forced a decisive third game with Southridge by evening their series with a 9-8 home win Sunday afternoon.

The Raiders scored twice in the bottom of the ninth inning, winning the game when Cody Ching hit an RBI-single past the third baseman. Teammates Nick Prante and Curt Cosby hit home runs earlier in the game.

The teams will face-off at 6 p.m. Monday, July 24, at Southridge High School, with the winner advancing to the metro-area Final Four.

Southridge won the first game 5-4 on Saturday, scoring the game-winner in the 11th inning on a Reynolds overthrow.

Additional coverage of these first-round series will appear in Wednesday's edition of The Gresham Outlook.