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Raleigh Hills Majors stars win district

Raleigh Hills rallies from four runs down to beat Murrayhill 11-8
by: BECCA QUINT WINNERS — The Raleigh Hills Majors all-stars celebrate after beating Murrayhill on Monday night.

PORTLAND - This was a tournament championship showdown for the ages.

Monday's Little League Majors district baseball tournament championship game at Alpenrose put Raleigh Hills up against cross-town powerhouse Murray-hill, a team that Raleigh Hills had not beaten since 2004.

But Raleigh Hills, benefiting from timely hitting and Little League's 85-pitch limit, rallied from a 7-3 deficit in the sixth inning and outscored Murrayhill 8-1 in the final inning to win 11-8.

Raleigh Hills advances to the Little League State tournament in Bend on Saturday, opening with a play-in game against Rainier at 9 a.m. With a win there, Raleigh Hills would face Bend South at 1 p.m. Sunday. Semifinals are set for 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. July 28, the first championship game for 5:30 p.m. July 29, and the second championship game (if needed) for 9 a.m. July 30.

'Our team's always been an underdog and Murrayhill's always been a very dominant team, and I'm just happy to win this one,' said Raleigh Hills' Wyatt Christophersen with a smile.

'We just kept battling,' said Raleigh Hills coach Lane Christophersen. 'It's kind of been our theme the entire time - we just kept fighting back and fighting back and fighting back.'

Murrayhill's Huntley Sims pitched his team into the sixth inning, holding Raleigh Hills to three runs giving his offense ample time to take control, but Sims ran out of pitches with one out in the sixth, and after leaving to a standing ovation from the Murrayhill crowd, Raleigh Hills took over.

Karac Leyva came on to pitch for Murrayhill, with Kevin Watson on base after a double and Caden Johnsen aboard with a walk. Dusty Ward scored on a dropped third strike to bring the score to 7-4, but Nate Post struck out to bring Raleigh Hills to its final out.

Raleigh Hills would not go quietly, though. Ryan Hekker doubled to right field to score Johnsen and Joe Hollowell (who had been hit by a pitch) to shrink Murrayhill's lead to 7-6. Next, Mataio Talalemotu walked to load the bases, and Dylan Hires brought Joe Johnson home when he beat out an infield single on a close call that outraged the Murrayhill faithful.

Hekker scored from third base on a wild pitch to Kevin Watson to give Raleigh Hills its first lead of the game at 8-7, then Watson reached first and

Talalemotu scored on a dropped third strike to expand Raleigh Hills' lead to 9-7.

Murrayhill's Tyler Priest came in to relieve Leyva, but Hires scored from third on another wild pitch and Watson would do the same for Raleigh Hills' final two runs. Wyatt Christophersen struck out to end the eight-run inning with an 11-7 lead.

Murrayhill wasn't quite done yet, though. In the bottom of the seventh, Sims doubled to left field, Nick Zanotti singled with one out, and Sims scored on an error to cut the gap to 11-8. But Johnson, on in relief of Raleigh Hills' starter Ward, struck out Priest and got Griffin Nathman on a groundout, sealing the game for District 4 tournament champion Raleigh Hills, a team that had trailed 5-1 before scoring 13 runs in the sixth inning against Tigard in the semifinals just days earlier.

'In the last inning, when the chips are down, they showed (heart) and they kept battling, and they won the game,' Lane Christophersen said.

Earlier in the game, Murrayhill's offense got things going with Leyva's RBI double that scored Yuki Furutaka for a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Leyva scored moments later on a wild pitch home to make it 2-0.

Sims shut out Raleigh Hills again in the second, and pinch runner Trace Hokkanen stole two bases and scored on a passed ball for a 3-0 Murrayhill advantage.

Raleigh Hills came to life in the third, though, with Hires' two-run single to center field, and Wyatt Christophersen added an RBI single to tie the game at 3-3. Murrayhill answered with two runs off bad Raleigh Hills throws, Boling scored on a wild pitch, and Kaleo Basconcillo laid a bunt down to score Jackson Logan and extend Murrayhill's lead to 7-3 in the bottom of the third inning.