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Nationals take that next step

LITTLE LEAGUE - Gresham bashes four homers in district title win over Reynolds
by: David Ball Gresham's Seth Dawson makes contact during Sunday's district title game. He hit two home runs in the National's 9-7 win over Reynolds.

Gresham National relied on its home-run hitters Sunday to take out Reynolds 9-7 in the Little League District 2 championship game.

Trailing 5-2 in the fourth inning, Gresham roared back with Seth Dawson and Austen Carpenter sending back-to-back homers over the center-field fence. Dawson's shot plated three runs and put the Nationals back in front 6-5, while Carpenter's blast sailed high off his bat, cleared a row of spectators and landed in a neighboring field.

But Reynolds, last year's ages 10-11 district champs, wasn't about to surrender its title without a fight.

Alex Osorio tied the game in the fifth with a two-run double that bounced to the center-field wall. The Raiders were poised to score the go-ahead run, but Gresham's Hunter Hemenway ended the inning when he grabbed a hard-hit hopper out of the dirt and threw across the infield to beat the runner by half a step.

Gresham went to the long ball again with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, breaking the deadlock when Ezra Samperi launched a two-run shot over right field to make the final 9-7.

A two-out single by Caden Gordy brought the tying run to the plate in the sixth, but Hemenway converted the final out by charging a slow roller that made it just halfway down the third-base line.

'This was a big accomplishment,' Gresham manager Dave Ross said. 'No matter who we faced, we were just focused on beating whoever was in front of us that day.'

The National squad advances to the nine-team state tournament where it will face Ashland at 12 p.m. Saturday.

Look for extended coverage in the July 20 edition of The Outlook.