Jefferson County's top 13- and 14-year-old survive close shave to advance
Jefferson County's Junior level Little League all stars showed an ability to recover on July 16.
After stumbling twice in three innings to cost itself what had been a 4-1 lead after three innings, Jefferson County's team captured the District 5 Little League of Oregon tournament when it scored twice in the top of the seventh (and final) inning to beat Bend North, 7-6, in the championship game.
Last Wednesday's win earned the Jefferson County team the right to both play in the state tournament, which started at Estacada on Friday, and to cut their coaches' hair -- quite short.
Jefferson County reached the championship by beating Sisters, 10-0, in the semifinals of July 15. That game came on the heels of three wins the mixture of Madras, Warm Springs, Metolius and Culver area athletes had posted in pool play on July 12, 13 and 14.
Tyler Ellsbury led off the District 5 championship game for Jefferson County by bouncing a hit past the pitcher. Darrel Ceciliani followed that by singling sharply to left. On the next play, though forced out at second, Ceciliani distracted North Bend enough to make sure that Ellsbury reached third and that Jake Prow, who grounded the ball, made first.
Jansen Harrington proved effective as Jefferson County's starting pitcher. He was denied the win by a couple of dropped balls that allowed unearned runs to score for North Bend. Harrington even contributed to the initial scoring for J.C's Junior all-stars in the championship game. He bunted Prow to second to put a second runner in scoring position.
Chris "Charlie" Valenzuela grounded hard to the shortstop for Bend North. It was hard enough to prevent an out and to provide Jefferson County with its first run of the Junior Little League championship game.
Bobbie Thurby collected the second RBI of the title game when he put a ground ball into play and beat Bend North's throw to first.
Though giving up a run to North Bend in the bottom of the third, Jefferson County had padded its lead by then.
Albert Adams' alert base running let him amble around the diamond for JC in the second inning. Prow put his feet into gear for Jefferson County in the third inning. He stole second and third base before scoring on a grounder to give JC a four-run lead which could have been larger. Chris "Charlie" Valenzuela was stranded during the third after reaching third on a bobble by Bend North.
Bend North scored its first run in the bottom of the third inning on a single to right which left the batter at second. An attempt to throw the runner out by Jefferson County sailed high. That let a single to left push across the first run for Bend North.
Harrington struck out two Bend North hitters in that third inning and nearly escaped with a shutout still looming, but a grounder to third proved too slow to get the runner at first, allowing the initial run to score.
Ceciliani scored Jefferson County's fifth run in the fourth before two Bend North runs came in after what could have been the final out in the bottom of the fourth.
Potential outs that were bobbled by the Jefferson County fielders proved Bend North's biggest break in the fifth inning. After a walk, Bend North laid down a bunt meant as a sacrifice which turned into a run-scoring overthrow.
Ellsbury was brought in for relief and got three straight outs, but the game was 5-5 headed to the sixth.
Jefferson County was set down without a runner reaching first in its sixth before giving up the lead run on a pair of hits to left.
Ellsbury himself started the winning rally for Jefferson County by bouncing a grounding through the pitcher's mound and into center. A batter later Prow doubled to left-center field ahead of Harrington launching a drive to right-center.
After dropping its second chance at a pop up out, Jefferson County recovered behind Ellsbury's pitching in the seventh.
Bend North's pitcher was tiring, but stayed in.
"I can't believe they didn't switch," said Mike Leno, Jefferson County's manager.
He said Jefferson County tried to be aggressive and get their runners into scoring position.
Eventually, Charlie Valenzuela singled to left after a stolen base in Jefferson County's seventh to push across the winning run.
Jefferson County used Cam Rosenfield and Jeremy Dupont to help defensively against Bend North
Winning took some solid pitching and defensive play in the bottom of the seventh against Bend North. That contrasted with an easier win the day before for Jefferson County.
Though starting slow, with just one run in the first two innings, Jefferson County crushed Sisters with six runs each in their fourth and fifth innings.