Murrayhill's seven-run third inning lifts it past Montana into the final
by: AL CUIZON, HERE IT COMES — Murrayhill pitcher Derek Keller wasn’t at his best in the Northwest Regional semifinal, but he was still good enough to pick up the win and lift his team into the regional championship game.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - It had been, frankly, pretty darned easy for the Murrayhill Little League Majors all-stars during the pool play portion of the Northwest Regional tournament.

Murrayhill, the District 4 and Oregon state champion, had thumped its first four foes at regionals by an average score of 9-2 and was the clear favorite heading into Friday's semifinal against fourth-seeded Montana, a team Murrayhill had already beaten once.

But Montana gave Murrayhill all it wanted before the Beaverton stars - on the stength of Toma Matisoff's three-run homer and his team's seven-run third inning - finally pulled away to win 10-8 and secure their berth in the tournament championship.

'It was a fastball and I was just trying to protect,' Matisoff said of his home run. 'After I hit it, I started running and then I saw it go over the fence and I was like 'Wow.''

'To come through with a big home run - he just smoked that ball - it couldn't have come at a better time,' said Murrayhill manager Jeff Keller.

But it wasn't all easy against Montana, which had given Murrayhill its toughest game of pool play (Murrayhill won 6-3) just three days earlier.

The game was tied 2-2 after two innings, but Montana took a 4-2 lead in the third thanks to key hits from Brody Miller and Riley King and two Derek Keller wild pitches.

'Derek struggled. He had trouble throwing strikes, but Devon (DeJardin) came on in relief to slow 'em down,' Jeff Keller said.

Murrayhill answered in a big way in its half of the third, putting its rally together with two outs to grab a seemingly commanding lead. Matisoff's bomb brought home three runs in the inning, and teammate DeJardin added an RBI double and Corey Pool a run-scoring triple in the frame to provide their team with a 9-6 edge.

Montana rallied back within 9-8 run in the fifth inning when King stroked a two-run single, but Murrayhill made sure Montana got no closer, ending the threat by throwing Miller out at the plate.

Jace Fry then capped Murrayhill's day in the sixth inning by hitting a solo home run for the final 10-8 margin.

Derek Keller got the win for Oregon, with relief help from DeJardin.

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