The Tigard team wins the first game of its playoff, then drops the next two
SANDY - Something had to give as hot-hitting Tigard met the lights-out pitching of East County in the second round of the Metro-Area AAA American Legion baseball playoffs.
Tigard continued to swing the stick well in the first game of the three-game series, jumping out to a 6-1 lead thanks in large part to a burst in the first on Gunner Cederberg's three-run homer. Host East County battled back within a run, but left the equalizer at third in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings as the Twins held on for a 6-5 victory on July 26.
'This was huge because they're a really good baseball team,' Cederberg said. 'We took them by surprise scoring the early runs.'
That was only an extension of what the Tigard team had been doing.
The Twins came into the game surging behind an offense that pounded out 52 hits in two games to sweep Hillsboro in the first round.
Tigard's offense continued its hot hitting in the top of the first with hard singles by Jeff Jones and Ryan Gorton setting up Cederberg's blast.
Cederberg hit the first pitch he saw just inside the left-field foul pole for a three-run shot and early 3-0 lead.
'I hit it pretty well,' Cederberg said. 'I don't hit many, but when I do, I enjoy it.'
Tigard added another run in the second on Gorton's RBI-single into the right-center field gap that scored Isiah Ferrer, who was hit by a pitch with two outs and stole second.
The Twins led 6-1 after getting two more runs in the fifth. Gorton led off with a double down the right field line and scored on Nate Grisham's two-out single up the middle. Miles Kreisberg followed by driving a stand-up double into the right-center gap to score Grisham from first.
The Knights began their climb out of the hole with a run in the fifth. Kyle Seymour led off by reaching when the Twins' first baseman pulled his foot off the bag. A sacrifice bunt moved him to second and he advanced to third on a passed ball. Ryan Morales reached on an infield single with a nubber to the left side that scored Seymour.
East County pulled within a run with a three-run sixth. Jim Bray started it with a one-out blooper in front of the third baseman for an infield single. After Greg Bognick singled into left, Seymour hit a slow bouncer that the Twins' shortstop tried to barehand. The ball got past him and continued into center field, allowing Bray to score and Bobnick to move to third on the error.
Seymour advanced to second on a passed ball with the catcher's throw sailing into center field allowing Bobnick to touch home as Seymour continued to third. Will DeBiccari's sacrifice fly on a deep drive to center plated Seymour to make it 6-5.
Morales kept the inning going with a double to the left field fence that knocked out Twins' starting pitcher Kreisberg. Morales went to third on a passed ball, but Ben Millar came on in relief to induce a fly out that stranded him there.
That would also be the case the next two innings for East County. In the seventh, Austan Mason crushed a leadoff double to the fence in deep center field and went to third on a sacrifice bunt. But a strikeout and fly out prevented him from scoring the tying run.
Bobnick beat out an infield single to start the eighth and Seymour followed with a bunt single past the charging first baseman to give the Knights a pair of runners. East County failed to move the runners with a sacrifice bunt that resulted in a strikeout. A groundout pushed Bobnick to third, but Twins' closer Gorton struck out the next batter to end the frame.
Gorton hit a batter with one out in the ninth, but locked down the victory with a groundout and strikeout to end the game.
'I just came in and did my thing,' Gorton said. 'I love the closing role. I've done it so many times, I don't get nervous anymore.'
The Knights, composed of graduated players from Sandy and Gresham high schools, came into the game having swept Aloha in the first round and cruising to the Hoodview district title by outscoring their opponents 58-7.
'Gunner asked me before the game if we had a chance and I told him I thought so,' Gorton said. 'It's just baseball: 90 feet to first; 60 feet from the mound to home plate. We just kept battling and got the win.'