Sixth-inning rally dooms Nationals

LITTLE LEAGUE - Ashland overcomes Gresham 14-13 in Friday's elimination game
by: David Ball Gresham pitcher Austen Carpenter threw into the fifth inning Thursday before hitting his maximum pitch count. The Nationals lost 8-2 against host Bend South.

The Gresham National all-stars climbed the mountain only to have Ashland topple them from the summit with a heart-wrenching 14-13 win Friday in a do-or-die game at the Little League state tournament.

The Nationals got buried under an eight-run avalanche in the first inning, as Ashland brought 13 batters to the plate.

Gresham responded with its own scoring flurry in the second inning, putting six straight batters on base during one stretch that included back-to-back homers by Austen Carpenter and Greg Mehlhaff.

Gresham moved into the lead with four more runs in the third inning, pulling even on Seth Dawson's RBI-single through the left side, and moving ahead on a line-drive single to center by Jeramy Ross.

The team seemed to be running away with the victory when Carpenter sent another blast out of the park, this time a two-run homer that almost cleared a second fence guarding the road coming into the park. The big hit moved Gresham's lead to 13-8 in the fourth inning, but it also proved to be the team's final runs of the night.

Ashland whittled the gap to a single run, heading into the bottom of the sixth inning then scored the winning run on a two-out single through the middle by Nick Sanderson.

Ashland has won five straight elimination games to earn a spot in Saturday's finals against host Bend South.

Look for extended Thursday/Friday tournament coverage in the July 30, edition of The Outlook.