Tualatin team wins Futures tourney title
Baseball: Suburban Door downs LO in the winner-take-all championship tilt
LAKE OSWEGO - The Tualatin-based Suburban Door Futures baseball team got off to a rough start to its summer season.
But the Tualatin squad ended the season by celebrating a state championship.
After losing its first five games of the season, the Suburban Door team got on track and went undefeated through conference play, going 10-0.
That momentum fueled a postseason run that started with a series sweep of Central Catholic in the district tournament and ended with a near-perfect run through the state tournament, which was held July 28-31 at Lake Oswego High School.
Using a lethal combination of timely hitting and deep pitching, Tualatin overcame different obstacles presented by foes Sherwood, Jesuit, Sunset, and finally Lake Oswego in state tournament play.
'What jumped out at me as a major factor to winning the tournament was the fact that our hitters only struck out eight times in five games, yet our pitchers recorded 26 strikeouts,' Suburban Door coach Justin Burch said.
Led by Joey Fishback's .417 batting average and key pitching performances by Austin Hudson and Jared Sablan, Suburban Door trek to the championship of the four-day tournament started with a nail-biting victory over Sherwood on Thursday. Tualatin fended off a pesky Sherwood team, which pushed Tualatin to its last strike in the bottom of the seventh inning before Tualatin pulled out a 5-4 victory.
Tualatin's Austin Green delivered a clutch two-out, RBI single to tie the game. In addition to scoring the tying run, Green's timely hit advanced the winning run to third and set up Jack McDonnell for his two-out, two-strike walk-off line drive to score the decisive run.
The ensuing mob scene at first base was just the warm up for the celebration that was to come later in the tournament.
With the win, Suburban Door advanced to face Jesuit. Things didn't look good for Tualatin after Jesuit raced to a 4-0 lead in their top half of the first inning.
However, true to form, the Tualatin boys saw Jesuit's four runs and raised them another six to finish the first inning with a 10-4 lead. Tualatin never looked back and cruised to a 14-7 victory.
According to Burch, the game ball for this victory easily went to Sean Pellatz.
'I turned to Sean for relief (pitching) in the second inning, needing to preserve arms for the rest of the tournament' Burch said. 'And without warming up Sean took the ball and shut down a tough Jesuit squad for the rest of game, only allowing a single run. That was huge for us. '
Next up for Tualatin was Sunset in the July 30 winners' bracket final. Hudson had command of all of his pitches the entire game and never let Sunset mount a serious challenge. If Hudson wasn't painting the corners with his glove-popping fastball, he was buckling hitter's knees with his curveball.
Highlighting Tualatin's offensive attack was an RBI double over the center fielder's head by Jack McDonnell, breaking a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning and sealing the victory for Tualatin.
Reaching Sunday without a loss meant that Tualatin simply had to win one of two games in the double-elimination format against Lake Oswego, which emerged from the losers' bracket.
With the odds stacked against it, Lake Oswego employed a head-scratching strategy of starting the same pitcher two games in a row on Sunday - pitching him almost 14 complete innings.
To his credit, Lake Oswego pitcher, Jared Bell, almost pulled off the miracle, but in the end his 160-plus pitches weren't enough to will his teammates past Tualatin.
Lake Oswego narrowly survived a tough pitchers' duel in the first game for a 2-1 victory.
With both teams now having one loss apiece it meant the final game of the day was for all the marbles.
Leading the way for Tualatin in the winner-take-all final was Jared Sablan. Fresh off of one inning of relief pitching in the previous game Sablan started the final and decisive game and shut Lake Oswego down.
Tualatin jumped out to a 3-0 lead in first inning. Lake Oswego showed a lot of grit scoring two runs in the fifth inning, but in the end the task of winning a third game in a single day was just too much for the Lakers.
Timely hitting and fancy offensive maneuvering, coupled with Sablan's complete-game performance, powered Tualatin to the 5-2 win and the state tournament championship.
The last out of the tournament came on a ground ball to Fishback, who was playing at shortstop for Tualatin. Fishback calmly gathered up the two-hopper and drilled a line drive to first baseman, Taylor Boos, for the last out of the tournament and season.
As soon as Boos completed the exchange from Fishback gloves showered the beautiful Sunday afternoon sunset and the boys from Tualatin celebrated a long and memorable summer of 2011 baseball season.
As the Tualatin boys mobbed one another and posed for pictures Burch reflected on the tournament and season.
'We just played vanilla baseball. We made routine plays, we didn't have to do anything exciting, but it was still really sweet.' he said. 'Having players like Robbie Ellis and Tyler Snyder come off the bench really helped us.
'We started off the preseason 0-5 but came back...growing as a team throughout the season. The kids made tremendous growth as individual players during the summer season, working with these kids through those improvements made coaching really enjoyable. '
Players for the championship Suburban Door team include Tyler Baggenstos, Taylor Boos, Cody Davidson, Robbie Ellis, Joey Fishback, Jake Gellos, Austin Green, Brock Hulse, Austin Hunsdon, Jack McDonnell, Camden Muller, Sean Pellatz, Michael Powelson, Blake Reser, Graham Russell, Jared Sablan, Tyler Snyder, Mark Toda and Caleb Towers.