Local players help the team reach the Babe Ruth championship game
EPHRATA, Wash. - The Portland Baseball Club didn't win the championship.
But the Babe Ruth ages 18U team, featuring some players from Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, made it all the way to the final game of the World Series, had a good time while also adding to its list of accomplishments.
'It was a ton of fun,' said Spencer Smith, a 2011 Tigard High School graduate and one of seven local players on the PBC team. 'We got to play baseball every day in nice weather and we had people taking care of us. You had the whole city behind you.'
And the Portland Baseball Club team came one win away from a World Series title, as it fell 18-0 to Mobile, Ala., in the Babe Ruth World Series championship game, played Saturday at Johnson-O'Brien Stadium in Ephrata, Wash.
It was the second straight year that the Portland team lost to Mobile in the World Series title game, but that didn't seem to dampen the local players' spirits.
'We felt good about it,' Tualatin graduate Corey VanDomelen said of reaching the championship game of the series. 'The last game didn't go the way we wanted, but it still felt good.'
The Portland Baseball Club squad, which also included Kyler Garcia and T.J. Pruneda from Tigard, Austin Richmond from Tualatin and Tanner Kichler and Jordan Ramp from Sherwood, went 4-0 in pool play at the World Series to earn a No. 1 seed going into the single-elimination portion of the event.
PBC opened bracket play Friday with a 6-2 win over Ottumwa, Iowa, in a World Series semifinal game.
'It was win or go home,' Smith said. 'So that was a good one for us.'
Smith helped get the Portland Baseball Club team off to a fast start in the semifinal contest. In the top of the first inning, while playing in center field, he threw out Ottumwa's Austin Westercamp at home plate, as Westercamp tried to score from second base on a single by Josh Martsching.
Smith then singled to lead off the bottom of the first inning and he ended up scoring on a fielder's choice grounder by Tanner Scott to give the Portland team a 1-0 lead.
'We got up early,' VanDomelen said. 'That's what we looked to do.'
Portland added another run in the bottom of the second inning to push its lead to 2-0. Richmond had a single in the frame and VanDomelen drove in Phil Belding with a fielder's choice grounder.
PBC added on two more runs in the bottom of the third inning and one more in the bottom of the fourth to up the margin to 5-0. VanDomelen scored the Portland run in the fourth inning. He led off the frame with a single and he would score from third when Jake Thran drew a bases-loaded walk.
Ottumwa rallied to score twice in the top of the sixth inning to make the score 5-2. But Portland answered back with a run in its half of the frame to up its lead to 6-2.
Ottumwa got two runners on base in the top of the seventh, but wasn't able to score, leaving Portland Baseball Club with the 6-2 victory and a trip to the World Series championship game.
Richmond was the winning pitcher for Portland in the semifinal contest. In five and two-thirds innings of work, the left-hander, who was named the player of the game, gave up two runs (one earned) on six hits while striking out nine and walking one.
'Austin always does his job,' said VanDomelen, who played at second base for the Portland team. 'He throws strikes and gets them to hit ground balls.'
'We had Austin on the mound, we played tough defense and we hit the ball,' Smith said.
VanDomelen went 1-for-3 at the plate in the semifinal win with a run scored and an RBI. Smith went 1-for-4 with a run scored. Pruneda pitched a third of an inning of scoreless relief on the mound.
In Saturday's World Series championship game, Portland found itself facing a big early deficit as the Mobile Rawdogs scored nine runs in the top of the first inning and nine more in the top of the third frame to take an 18-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Mobile pitcher James Traylor threw a no-hitter for his team, striking out six in the game that was shortened to five innings by the 10-run mercy rule.
In fact, Smith was the only Portland player to reach base in the championship game, drawing a leadoff walk in the top of the fourth inning.
'They were pretty good,' Smith said.
'It was just one of those days,' VanDomelen said. 'We're not as bad as we showed that day. I think that if we played them again, we'd have a chance to beat them.'
Now, following the World Series, many of the local players are heading off to their respective colleges.
Smith, who was a three-sport star at Tigard High School, will play baseball at Lane Community College in Eugene.
VanDomelen will be playing baseball at Linfield College in McMinnville. And he'll be taking some special World Series memories with him.
'This was a fun group to play with,' he said. 'You play with guys you used to play against and want to beat, and now they're your best friends.'