Lake Oswego's Northwest Realty Group wins two close games in the series
It was a great summer.
The Dr. Barney's AAA American Legion baseball team, Southridge's summer squad, opened its second season with relatively modest expectations and finished with much, much more.
Dr. Barney's, with just one graduated senior in the lineup and a handful of starters with little or no previous varsity experience, made the 2006 summer season a keeper, notching a winning streak of more than 20 games, battling its way into the Metro-Area playoffs and playing into the second round before finally falling at the hands of Lake Oswego's Northwest Realty Group.
'I'm thrilled with the summer,' said Dr. Barney's coach Don Fitzgerald, whose team finished its summer at 31-14. 'I have no complaints. I couldn't have asked for anything more from them.'
That said, Lake Oswego was pretty tough in round two of the Metro-Area playoffs, winning their first-round game against Dr. Barney's at West Linn by a 7-6 margin on July 26, then ending its best two-of-three series with a 19-15 victory at Southridge last Thursday.
'We had a chance to win both those games,' Fitzgerald said. 'Without a doubt, we would have won the second game but we just had some errors we usually don't have.'
NW Realty 7, Dr. Barney's 6
Northwest Realty blasted out to a 7-1 through four innings of their series opener, but saw Dr. Barney's rally with four runs in the fifth and one more in the seventh to close within 7-6 before falling short.
Craigan Fitzgerald knocked in his team's first run with a groundout in the third inning that cut Northwest Realty's lead to 2-1, but the Lake Oswego team boosted its edge to 7-1 on a two-run homer by Bennett Frazier in the third, and an RBI single by Matt Stutes and a two-run double by Cooper Mandelblatt in the fourth.
In Dr. Barney's big fifth, Kevin Coleman doubled in two runs and scored later on an error, and teammate Chance Howard brought his team within 7-5 when he doubled home Mitch Edwards. And in the seventh, Trent Oleszczuk reached base on a error to lead off and later scored on Coleman's groundout to second.
Dr. Barney's put single runners aboard in both the eighth and ninth innings, but couldn't score either time.
Howard and Brendon Goodling shared pitching duties for Dr. Barney's, while Craig Mooney came on in relief of Northwest Realty starter Frazier in the sixth.
NW Realty 19, Dr. Barney's 14
Northwest Realty hit the ground running in its second game against Dr. Barney's, taking advantage of some uncharacteristic errors to grab a big early lead.
'They jumped on us early,' Don Fitzgerald said, whose team suffered through eight errors in the game. 'We had some unexpected errors.'
But Dr. Barney's, as it had all summer long, didn't quit. The team rallied for a big seventh inning, an inning highlighted by Craigan Fitzgerald's key single and Coleman's three-run triple that tied the contest at 10-10.
Northwest Realty flexed its offensive muscles again in the top of the eighth though, pushing across eight runs in that at-bat, then adding one more in the ninth.
Again, though, Dr. Barney's fought back, notched five runs in its half of the ninth (three of those on Jack Brock's bases-clearing triple) and cut the gap to 19-15 before finally running out of time.
'We got some big hits in the ninth and then we just ran out of time,' Don Fitzgerald said.
Despite seeing his team's season end, Fitzgerald was more than happy with the development he'd seen in his young players.
'Pitching-wise we were really happy with Goodling and (Daniel) Trueblood this summer, and Chance Howard pitched well for us too,' he said. 'And hitting-wise, our most improved player was Jack Brock; he really came through for us. And Kevin Coleman was really solid for us and (Trent) Oleszczuk really solidified the shortstop position for us.'