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Area stars lift PBC at Series

The team has gone 4-0 in pool play, will play in the semifinals tomorrow
by: Dan Brood BRING IT — Tualatin’s Austin Richmond is now dealing his magic for Portland Baseball Club in the Senior Babe Ruth World Series in Ephrata, Wash.

EPHRATA, Wash. - For the local stars on the Portland Baseball Club Senior Babe Ruth team, the 16-18 World Series is looking a lot like batting practice.

Portland is off to a 4-0 start in the Series - being held at Johnson-O'Brien Stadium - after vanquishing Noblesville, Ind. in a 4-3 comeback on Saturday, blanking Cape Cod, Mass., 7-0 in game two on Sunday, demolishing Eagle Pass, Texas, 18-1 on Monday, and defeating Puget Sound, Wash. 9-2 on Tuesday.

Local players on the team include Kyler Garcia, Spencer Smith and T.J. Pruneda from Tigard High School, Austin Richmond and Corey VanDomelen from Tualatin High School, and Tanner Kichler and Jordan Ramp from Sherwood High School.

'We have good team chemistry, dominant pitching and defense. There's great competition and we're getting to play against really good guys from the whole nation. We're seeing the best and competing against them,' Richmond said.

'We're just a good team - we play well together. Pitching, hitting, we play together well. After how we swung the bats yesterday (against Eagle Pass), I'm optimistic. We're all feeling pretty confident,' VanDomelen said.

Besides playing well together, the players have discovered other benefits from their time in the Series.

'Hanging out with people from different areas, there's good camaraderie, and all the relationships I've made along the way have been really fun,' Smith said. 'It's been a blast - getting out to different parts of Oregon and Washington and seeing how people across the country play - it gives you a good perspective on baseball.'

Noblesville scored three runs on four hits in the top of the first inning of PBC's opener. Portland responded with four unanswered runs in the bottom of the first with Jordyn Van Atta's single bringing Spencer Maxey home from second. Tanner Scott scored off of Van Atta's sac fly in the third inning. Maxey's single in the seventh scored VanDomelen from second, and in the eighth Brock Pellow scored off of a fielding error to take the lead and secure the game.

Kichler and Pruneda allowed Cape Cod only four hits and two walks on Sunday. Kichler pitched six scoreless innings to earn the win and Player of the Game honors. Portland scored single runs in the top of the first, fifth and sixth innings before Scott broke it wide open with a grand slam in the top of the seventh.

'I try to mix it up pretty well - I pitch off my fastball, but mix it up with my curveball and changeup. Whenever you travel and go somewhere you've never been and you get to play baseball, it makes it a lot of fun,' Kichler said.

Portland's finest offensive showing to date came against Eagle Pass, when Scott struck for three RBIs and a stolen base, Van Atta brought two runners home with a double in the top of the first and knocked in two more with his home run in the second. Phil Belding singled home a run in the first and doubled in another run in the fourth. Scott singled home runs in both the first and second, stole second in the third and doubled home a runner in the fourth. Maxey singled home two runs and stole home in the third. Pellow hit a three-run home run in the third. Richmond collected an RBI single in the top of the fourth.

PBC made it four in a row on Tuesday by rolling past Puget Sound, with Smith going 2-for-3 and scoring three times, and Scott driving in three to support the pitching of Eric Huson, Belding and Pellow.

PBC's Tuesday win helped it lock up first place in the National Division; now the team and will play in the tournament semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday.