Little Leaguers fall short of title but make long-lasting memories
by: JAIME VALDEZ, Murrayhill's Corey Pool, left, and Trevor Nix are overwhelmed by the reception at Portland International Airport after arriving from Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., late Monday evening.

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -The rain came down in sheets Sunday.

It started Saturday night while all the players on the Murrayhill Little League team slept, awaiting their final game at the Little League World Series. The rain continued Sunday morning and continued to come down hard.

It washed down the parking lot at the Little League International Complex, home of the Little League World Series, in rivers.

It washed across the edges of the complex's practice fields in grassy flows.

It washed its way into giant puddles at Volunteer Stadium, the scheduled site of Murrayhill's third-place game against Mexico, until it washed the game itself right off the schedule.

What it couldn't wash away, however, was Murrayhill's incredible catalog of accomplishments this summer: tournament titles at district, state and regionals; a berth in the World Series (the first for an Oregon team in 48 years, since Rose City of Portland in 1958); a spot in the tournament semifinals and U.S. championship games; and finally, a third-place tie in the World Series itself.

It couldn't wash away an incredible list of Murrayhill World Series highlights, including Sam Albert's .533 batting average, Jace Fry's .417 hitting and tenacious pitching, Derek Keller's 1.86 ERA in 9.2 innings work on the mound, or Devon DeJardin's pitching comeback (he won two straight games after getting shelled in his team's opener).

It couldn't wash away Keller's five-RBI explosion in Murrayhill's 9-1 rout over Lake Charles, La. It couldn't wash away Albert's amazing glovework at second base and shortstop or his fearless baserunning. Nor could it wash away Trevor Nix's dramatic game-tying home run in Saturday's U.S. championship game.

Beyond even all of that, however, Sunday's rain had absolutely no impact on the deserved sense of pride and accomplishment shared by all Murrayhill's players, coaches and parents.

'What's been great is that the kids worked hard and achieved so much, and the teamwork,' says Jenny DeJardin, mother to first baseman and pitcher Devon. The players 'are always positive. No one gets down on anyone. They're always supportive. It's like we all became a family.'

'It's an extraordinary experience for those 12 individuals,' says Brad Perry, father of outfielder Austin Perry. 'And win, lose or draw here, these boys are winners.'

'What I look at is the 12 kids on the team and the experience they've had,' says Scott Lampman, father of outfielder Perry Lampman. 'I'm just so glad they're out here, to actually live the dream.'

And this from a couple of Murrayhill's players:

'We were kind of surprised just to make it here,' DeJardin says. 'But we tried our hardest and we know that even if we lost, we're still stars.'

'It's worth it big-time,' Nix says. 'Anything we did here was worth it.'

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