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Murrayhill 10-11 stars rally to victory at state tourney

After opening state with a 9-1 loss, Murrayhill rolls to the state title
by: Miles Vance BIG HITTER — Murrayhill’s Tanner Dawson (shown here at district) hit a grand slam in the state championship.

PORTLAND - The Murrayhill 10-11 baseball all-stars knew they were going to win it all at state, but they had no idea what a ride it would be along the way.

Murrayhill, the District 4 winner, opened the 2011 state tilt with a disheartening loss, scrambled to a one-run victory in game two that kept its title hopes alive, then outscored its final three opponents 31-1, that trio of wins capped by a 13-1 victory over Clackamas on July 14 in the finale. The tournament was held at Lakeside Little League in Northeast Portland.

Key to Murrayhill's win in the title contest was its breakout nine-run second inning, an at-bat that saw the team extend its lead to 10-0 and set the stage for its 12-run victory.

'We were really happy after that inning and we knew we just needed to hold them after that,' said Murrayhill third baseman Jake Bunn.

'We dominated like we knew we could,' said Murrayhill outfielder/pitcher Callan McRae. 'We all started to hit. It was very exciting.'

'We just exploded with the bats,' added Murrayhill manager Grady McRae.

Scappoose 9, Murrayhill 1

It wasn't all easy for Murrayhill at state, though. The team opened with a 9-1 loss to Scappoose in its July 9 opener, with Scappoose pushing across six runs in the first two innings and coasting home from there. Murrayhill managed just singles from Joe Ball, Kyle Knell and Trey Lowe in the game, while Mark Ellertson scored his team's lone run.

Callan McRae got knocked out as pitcher early in this game, and despite solid relief by Nick Uchida (three runs on one hit and three walks in 3-2/3

innings) and Andrew Sirak, Murrayhill's anemic hitting kept it from coming back.

Murrayhill 3, Bend North 2

Murrayhill was better in its 3-2 win over Bend North on July 10, the spark in this game coming when Connor Fajardo reached base on a drag bunt and came around later to score the winning run.

At the plate, Lowe and Kyle Knell both went 2-for-3, while Bunn, Ball, Tanner Dawson and Zach Staley added one hit each, and Callan McRae walked for the fifth time in six at-bats.

Ball started the game and threw five innings, allowing just two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out six. Dawson came in to close the game and finished the final inning in nine pitches with one strikeout.

'Our middle infield played very well during this game, with Andrew Sirak making some exceptional plays for us at second base, and Trey Lowe at shortstop,' Grady McRae said.

Murrayhill 5, Clackamas 0

Then, in its 5-0 win over Clackamas on July 12, Murrayhill finally hit its stride.

Zach Staley threw a complete-game shutout, allowing only three hits and two walks while striking out seven in what Grady McRae termed 'a dominating performance.'

At the plate, Staley went 2-for-2 with two doubles, Uchida went 2-for-2 with a double, Knell homered, and Lowe added a double of his own.

Murrayhill 13, Medford 0

As good as Murrayhill had been against Clackamas, it was even better in its four-inning

semifinal rout of Medford National on July 13.

Murrayhill pounded out 15 hits in 22 at-bats against Medford, and nine of Murrayhill's 12 players had at least one hit in the win. That effort was highlighted by Bunn's 3-for-3 day that included a grand slam, two hits each by Dawson, Knell, Callan McRae and Staley, and one each from Manny Castineira, Ball, Lowe and Uchida.

'Our bats obviously came alive in this game,' Grady McRae said.

Knell started and threw all four innings, allowing just two hits and four walks with five strikeouts.

Murrayhill 13, Clackamas 1

Now on an absolute roll, Murrayhill just kept its hit parade going in the finale against Clackamas on July 14.

Murrayhill led just 1-0 after the first inning, but broke the title contest wide open with a watershed nine-run second frame. They racked up another 13 hits in the championship, and banged out three home runs, two in that huge second frame.

None, however, was bigger than Dawson's grand slam homer off face of the outfield scoreboard in that second stanza.

'I was like 'Oh wow. That's gone,'' said Bunn, who added a three-run homer of his own in the third inning.

'I'll always remember Tanner hitting the homer off the scoreboard, and then Kyle (Knell) hitting his to right,' Callan McRae said.

Ball went 3-for-3 in the game with a double, Dawson was 2-for-2 with a double and his grand slam, Knell finished 2-for-3 with a two-run homer, and Lowe went 3-for-3 with a triple. Dawson also threw all four innings, allowing one run on four hits, no walks, one hit batter and three strikeouts.

All 12 players on the Murrayhill team played on last year's 10-year-old state title team.