Beaverton stars get a big victory

Murrayhill bounces back from its opening-game loss, pounds South 9-1
by: CHRISTOPHER WEDDLE, BACK ON TRACK — Murrayhill coach Ron Pool (center) high-fives Devon DeJardin while manager Jeff Keller congratulates catcher Trevor Nix following their win over Lake Charles, La. in pool play Sunday at the Little League World Series.

Murrayhill baseball.

Murrayhill manager Jeff Keller has been preaching the benefits of playing 'Murrayhill baseball' - pitch well, field well and hit the heck out of the ball - to his Little League Majors all-stars all summer long and his team took those lessons to heart in a big way Sunday at the Little League World Series.

Two days after opening the Series with a 6-1 loss to Portsmouth, N.H., Murrayhill came back strong in its second pool play game, ripping the South representative, Lake Charles Little League of Louisiana, by a 9-1 margin at Volunteer Stadium in Williamsport, Pa., to even its record at 1-1.

Murrayhill built its Sunday win on the sterling efforts of pitcher Devon DeJardin, who came back from a disappointing Friday performance with a three-hit, eight-strikeout effort, and shortstop Derek Keller, who went 2-for-3 at the plate and knocked in five runs.

'I'm feeling a lot better now,' DeJardin said. 'I was nervous the whole day … but I had a better warm-up and, about 20 minutes before the game, I felt calm. Then I just went out and pitched my hardest.'

'He really came back,' Murrayhill manager Jeff Keller said of DeJardin. 'He had a big smile on his face (when it was over) and maybe a little bit of relief.'

With DeJardin keeping Lake Charles at bay - the Louisiana team scored its lone run on a solo homer by Paul Beglis in the top of the fourth - Murrayhill's hitters went about the business of knocking the ball all over the stadium. Jace Fry got things started with a bang in the bottom of the first, smashing a leadoff home run to right field to give his team a 1-0 lead, an edge it would never relinquish. It was Fry's fifth game-opening homer of the 2006 all-star season.

'It took a lot of stress off Devon, to get ahead early,' Fry said. 'And after that, we just swung the bats instead of looking at pitches.'

'It was huge. It was huge,' Jeff Keller said of Fry's homer. 'It really got us rolling.'

Sam Albert added a run-scoring single later in the inning, knocking in Bryan Domogalla for a 2-0 lead, and Murrayhill tacked on four more in the second and three more in the fourth for the final 9-1 margin. In the bottom of the second, Toma Matisoff led off with a double, Trevor Nix followed with a walk and, after a strikeout, Fry was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Beglis got the second out of the frame but couldn't get past Derek Keller unscathed. Keller stepped up and delivered a two-out single to plate two runs, and Albert followed with a single past the shortstop of his own; that hit drove in Fry, and Keller scored from third for a 6-0 lead when the throw from the outfield got past the Southwest third baseman.

Derek Keller was back at it again in the bottom of the fourth, this time smashing a three-run home run over the wall in right-center to extend Murrayhill's lead to 9-1 and give him five RBIs on the day. He knocked in both Fry and Domogalla with his round-tripper.

'It feels way different now that we won a game,' Derek Keller said. 'It gives us a lot of hope, a lot of confidence.'

'The thing about these guys is I don't know if they feel any pressure other than the pressure they put on themselves,' Jeff Keller said. 'I think these kids believe they can compete.'

In addition to Derek Keller's big day, Fry went 2-for-2, knocked in one and scored three times, Domogalla was 1-for-2 and scored twice, Albert was 2-for-3 and Matisoff and Nix added one hit each.

Alec Powell also made his return to the Murrayhill lineup on Sunday after missing five games with a broken hand suffered at the San Bernardino, Calif., regional tournament. Powell went 0-for-1 and played defensively at third base.