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Tigard Senior American JBO team wins state

After nine games in seven days, the Tigard Senior American JBO baseball team battled back from an early defeat to avenge its lone loss and win state.

After losing to Roseburg in its third game, the Tigard Mavericks won five straight (including back-to-back victories against Roseburg) to take the title.

In the first championship game, Roseburg took a 3-0 lead in the first inning before Terence Lowery came on to pitch three scoreless innings. That gave his team time to catch up, which it did with a five-run fourth.

Nima Ansari had the big blow in the frame, blasting a grand slam over the left field fence for a 5-3 lead. Aaron Vice also had an RBI single in the inning.

Roseburg scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings around Lowery's solo homer in the fifth as Tigard held a 6-5 lead. But the Mavericks broke through in the sixth with six runs on singles by Vice, Andrew Stephens, Dylan Casey, Ben Harbolt and Connor Brennan, and a bases-clearing triple by Dominic Zandi, who went 3-for-3.

Casey then robbed a Roseburg player of a homer by making a leaping catch at the center field fence in the fifth and later tracked down a deep fly ball on the run.

'Once our hitters figured out their pitcher, I knew we'd score some runs on them, but I wasn't quite prepared for six runs in one inning,' manager Steve Brennan said. 'The kids were amazingly relaxed for being so close to a state title.'

That victory set up a final championship game against Roseburg, and Roseburg again built an early lead, jumping ahead 6-1 through three innings. But the Mavericks started to get to Roseburg's ace in the fourth. Nick Gonzalez hit a leadoff single to left, Vice walked and both players scored on Casey's double into the right-center gap.

Ansari was hit by a pitch and scored on a single by Brennan, who later came home on Zandi's single up the middle to tie the game at 6-6.

Roseburg got single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, but the resilient Mavericks showed their championship flare again. Tigard scored seven runs on seven singles and some daring baserunning to take a 13-8 lead.

The Mavericks added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Vice singled and scored on Ansari's single.

Roseburg made Tigard earn the title, scoring once and by putting two runners on in the final inning, but Gonzalez made a key stop at first, threw to third baseman Derek Webb, who applied the tag for the first out. Tigard then threw out the other runnerwhen Webb zipped the ball to Ansari for the second out. Casey wrapped up the title by striking out the next batter. Zandi led a 15-hit barrage in the game by going 3-for-3.

'What an incredible group of young men,' coach Brennan said. 'I can't even begin to describe how proud I am.

'All season long, they have played as a team, always supporting each other and never getting too down. That is what carried them through this tournament.'

Casey batted .661 in the tournament with six home runs, while Stephens (.556), Brennan (.538), Gonzalez (.500) and Zandi (.500) also hits well.

Tigard, which won the tournament's Sportsmanship Trophy, started things Monday by beating Hillsboro 10-4. Stephens, Zandi and Ansari combined to throw a four-hitter.

The Mavericks opened play Thursday with an 8-1 victory over Lakeridge behind Casey's bat. He went 3-for-3 with a single, double and the first of his six home runs. Zandi added a solo homer.

Later on Thursday, Tigard held off Rockwood for a 13-12 win. Casey hit a grand slam in the third for a 6-4 lead and the Mavericks built their edge to 9-4 by the fifth when Rockwood rallied to tie. Vice, Ansari and Brennan had RBI singles to regain the lead in the bottom of the inning. Rockwood drew within a run, but Casey made a running catch at the fence, hit Ansari with the relay, who then picked the runner at first for the final out.

Roseburg handed Tigard its first loss 10-9 on Friday. The Mavericks led 9-2 early behind home runs by Ansari and Casey, and a two-run double by Vice. But Roseburg got four unearned runs in the sixth, tied the game in the seventh and scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth to remain undefeated.

Tigard bounced backed with Saturday's 11-10 win over Westview, which led 6-0 in the first. The Mavericks responded with five runs in the bottom of the inning and trailed 8-6 after 2-½ innings. Tigard took a 9-8 lead with three runs in the bottom of the third and led 11-8 after Stephens' two-run double in the fourth. Stephens shut down Westview in the seventh and Tigard held on to win.

The Mavericks stayed alive with Saturday's 8-3 win over Santiam Christian. Casey and Zandi combined to hold Santiam to two runs through six innings. Webb and Casey each hit two-run homers for Tigard's key hits.

Tigard beat Banks 17-8 on Sunday morning to move into the championship finales. The Mavericks led 7-2 through two innings when Banks scored five runs in the fourth to tie the game. Each team had a run in the fifth before Tigard pulled away with two runs in the fifth and a seven-run explosion in the seventh. Stephens and Zandi doubled in the frame while Casey blasted his sixth homer.

Other members of the team include Brian Kerr and coaches Ryan Brown and Matt Leatherman.