RH stars bow out at state

Pendleton uses top-notch pitching to oust Raleigh Hills at state
by: BECCA QUINT WINNING SMILES — The Raleigh Hills all-stars (here at district) played well at state before falling just short. From left are Dylan Hires, Caden Johnsen, Mataio Talalamotu, Wyatt Christophersen, Ryan Hekker, Kevin Watson and Joe Hollowell.

BEND - The Raleigh Hills Majors all-stars have good reason to feel proud after their performance in the Oregon State Little League Baseball Tournament.

Raleigh Hills, the District 4 champion, went 2-2 in the nine-team double-elimination tournament at Skyview Middle School, and saw its state championship hopes end with a 4-0 loss to Pendleton on July 27.

Despite that final result, Raleigh Hills walked away proud of its efforts and proud of its first state tournament trip in 19 years.

'They are very proud,' said Raleigh Hills manager Andy Peterson. 'We kind of set a standard for years to come. For a small league, that's a big accomplishment.'

Raleigh Hills opened the double-elimination state tournament at Skyview Middle School with a 15-2 rout of Rainier on July 23, fell to Bend South 13-2 on July 24, hammered Sheldon 13-1 on July 25 in a loser-out game, then fell to Pendleton 4-0 in its final contest.

In the loss to Pendleton, Raleigh Hills simply had no answer for Pendleton pitcher Caden Smith. Smith threw a two-hit, 13-strikeout gem at Raleigh Hills, and sent his team into the semifinals in the process.

'We walked off thinking we'd been beaten by their pitcher, not their team,' Peterson said. 'The kid just dealt. He was the best pitcher in the tournament.'

Kevin Watson and Wyatt Christophersen had Raleigh Hills' two hits, with Watson singling in the first inning and advancing no farther, and Christopherson singling in the fourth and being stranded at second.

Smith was trouble at the plate too, hammering solo homers in the third and fifth innings to provide all the support he'd need.

Pendleton notched its first run in the bottom of the first inning when Mekhi Foreman walked and came around to score on passed balls.

Smith made it 2-0 in the third when he connected for his first home run, and Pendleton tacked on four more hits to score twice in the fifth.

After Smith's second solo shot, Foreman singled and came home later on a Bryson Pierce hit for the final 4-0 margin.

'We needed a little luck and we just didn't get any,' Peterson said. 'But they understood what they were up against.'

Raleigh Hills included Kyle Temme, Dusty Ward, Joe Hollowell, Dylan Hires, Ryan Hekker, Caden Johnsen, Joe Johnson, Steele Peterson, Nate Post and Mataio Talalemotu, and coaches Lane Christophersen and Brenda Peterson.

'I'm proud of them and their efforts, and I'm proud of what they accomplished,' Peterson added.

Tournament favorite and host Bend South - a team that handed Raleigh Hills its first tournament loss - went on to win the tournament championship by beating Ashland 14-1.

Bend South now advances to the Little League Baseball Northwest Regional in San Bernardino, Calif. That tournament opens Friday and continues through Aug. 13.