Team did well to win first three games
A hearty well done is deserved by the Scappoose Junior League baseball team for their efforts at the Western Regional Tournament in Irvine, Calif., last week.
The team didn't win the tournament, didn't even make the championship round, but they certainly represented Scappoose and Oregon admirably.
It was exciting to follow the team via the Internet and phone calls last week. They started with a win over Henderson, Nev., 11-10. The next day they beat Billings, Mont., 13-7, and then they topped Naches, Wash., 7-4.
They had a day off Friday and the talk started about the World Series in Taylor, Mich. It seemed a berth in the finals was all but a done deal. They were one of two unbeaten teams remaining. All of us may have been 'counting chickens before they hatched.' Usually, not a good idea.
The team got to relax a bit with a trip to Disneyland on their day off. The weather had been about the same as here, pretty much perfect for baseball.
All the giddiness disappeared Saturday with a 6-4 loss to Rocklin, Calif., the Northern California representative. The Scappoose kids came back from a 6-1 deficit, but it was too little, too late.
It didn't take long to figure out they were in serious danger of not making it to the championship bracket. Rocklin had lost to San Clemente, the Southern California rep just 4-3. Ties in the pool are decided on a run differential formula. The numbers didn't crunch well for Scappoose. Southern California had beaten Nevada, 6-0, Saturday. The coaches figured out Scappoose would need to win by six runs to make the finals. It was not to be. They didn't win and, in fact, got clobbered by San Clemente. The team earned some respect in the end with a couple of runs, but it couldn't have been the finish they wanted.
Some of the folks on the Internet had figured out the likely scenario before game time and despite the coaches' best efforts, it might have filtered to the lads on the team as well.
Scappoose had won 11 straight games before Saturday, most of them pretty handily. Manager Jeff Hering had used a little different strategy going into many of the district and state tournaments-pitching a lot of different kids. He had 11 pitchers on the team. In the first game at the regional tournament he used seven. He used six, each of the next two days.
What does that do? It allowed the coach to take advantage of Little League pitching restrictions. If a player doesn't throw more than 20 pitches, he can pitch the next day. A pitcher that throws an entire game may have to take four days off.
The strategy worked well until they ran into an 85-mile-per-hour pitcher against Northern California. They had trouble getting their offense going and for a while the game was much like the way they had beaten Parrish for the state championship, except they were on the wrong end. In Turner, Will Sprute used up all his pitches, but went the distance for the win.
The kids got to play a lot of games, got in a bit of travelling, saw Disneyland, and did a good job on the field and at the plate.
It's not easy to beat an all-star team from California. The state has a pool of players to draw from that is 10 times bigger than what Oregon has. With a bigger pool, they have a larger number of athletes to draw from. Scappoose's all-stars were the same ones they began the season with.
So kudos to the Scappoose team for a great effort and congratulations on getting as far as you did. It was a fun ride and we're all glad to have taken at least a part of it with you.