South Clackamas Juniors rule in Clackamas County, and they are seeded No. 1 heading into the state tournament

by: SUBMITTED - The South Clackamas Red Sox had a lot to celebrate the weekend of June 29-30, when they won first place at the Clackamas County Junior Baseball Junior National Championship Tournament. Pictured are members of the standout team: (lying down, from left) Rory Greco-Hall, Zach Lemmon and Matt Woolcott; (sitting) Anthony Chinchilla and Michael Percival; (first row standing) Jacob Phillips, Kevin Fullmer, Brandon Richardson, Zach Rummel and Linden MacKenzie; and (back) head coach Matt Phillips, coach Jim Richardson and coach Doug Hall.The South Clackamas Red Sox have taken Clackamas County Junior National Baseball by storm this summer.

The Sox, who sport a season record of 26-3, are the top-seeded team heading into this week’s Junior Baseball Junior National Division State Tournament, which runs through Sunday in Aloha. They went 13-1 in league and they avenged their only league loss at the recent county championship tournament, upending their nemesis from Molalla 17-4 in the championship final of the tournament.

Most of the players on the team are 12 years of age. They attended Ogden Middle School, Beavercreek Elementary, Mulino Elementary and Grand View Baptist during the past school year.

Many of the players on the team have played together for four years, but this is their first county championship. Their previous best finish was third place at the county tournament two years ago. They were out of the state tournament with two straight losses that year. They aim to change that at this year’s state tournament.

“I have three sons and I’ve coached a lot over the years,” said Red Sox head coach Matt Phillips. “But this is one of the funnest seasons I’ve had. It’s been a fantastic season. What’s made it special is the kids’ attitudes and the support of the parents....

“These kids don’t give up. They battle to the very end. They’ve come from behind quite a few times this year.”

Although the county championship game with Molalla was a rout, winning the county tournament was no cakewalk. The Sox advanced to the championship final through narrow wins over Whiskey Hill (6-5) and over Colton (15-14).

The 6-5 quarterfinal win over Whiskey Hill went down to the wire, with Jacob Phillips bringing Zach Rummel around with a two-out double in the bottom of the fifth for the winning run. The Sox then made it 3-up and 3-down for Whiskey Hill in the top of the sixth to seal the win. Rummel, pitching in relief, struck out two batters and shortstop Linden MacKenzie made the play on a ground ball for the third out in the sixth, and the Sox celebrated the hard fought win.

There was more drama in the 15-14 semifinal win over Colton. Rummel led off the bottom of the sixth with a double, stole third, and scored the game-winner on a sacrifice fly to center by Jacob Phillips.

The Red Sox took no hostages in the county championship game with Molalla, as they rattled their bats for no fewer than 20 hits.

“Our bats were on fire,” coach Phillips said. “We couldn’t be stopped. Everybody hit and everybody contributed. It was probably our best hitting game of the year.”

Rummel and Kevin Fullmer both hammered out home runs in the runaway.

The Sox had four other players hit home runs during the season: Anthony Chinchilla, Brandon Richardson, Jacob Phillips and MacKenzie.

The championship win avenged an 11-8 loss to Molalla in the second-half of the league season.

Richardson and Rummel did most of the pitching for the Sox this year, with Richardson starting and Rummel the closer.

“They both threw pretty hard,” Phillips observed.

Vying for the standout South Clackamas ball club were: Mike Percival (catcher), Rory Greco-Hall (second base), Austin Pottratz (outfield), Zach Lemmon (outfield), Matt Woolcott (outfield), Anthony Chinchilla (outfield), Brandon Richardson (pitcher), Jacob Phillips (first base), Zach Rummel (pitcher), Linden MacKenzie (shortstop) and Kevin Fullmer (outfield).

Jim Richardson and Doug Hall assisted Matt Phillips in coaching the team.

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