Putnam placed second in the county and third at state in Junior Federal baseball

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED - Players on the Rex Putnam Kingsmen Junior Federal baseball team did themselves proud in 2014, finishing second only to 2014 state champion North Marion at the county tournament and earning third place at state. Vying for the Kingsmen were: (front row, left to right) Austin Hayes, Kaiden Miller, Nick Geertsen, John Foglio and Gavin Lund; (second row) Tanner Drog, Dakota Reber, Matt Petersen, Derek Douangphrachanh, John Irish and K.J. Ruffo; and (back) coach Jason Reber, head coach Mike Geertsen and coach Allen Miller.Mike Geertsen’s Rex Putnam Kingsmen were tough to beat in 11- and 12-year-old Junior Baseball in 2014.

The 2013 Junior American state runners-up sported a 33-7 record heading into the 2014 Junior Baseball Junior Federal Division State Championship Tournament, where they earned third place.

They placed second in the Clackamas County Junior Federal Tournament, after going 6-0 in a county Junior American Division league and then 10-2 in a county Junior Federal Division league, after they were reclassified.

Geertsen’s Kingsmen came close to defeating North Marion for the county title, losing 7-4 in the county final.

“We had some of our better hitters hit the ball right at people [in the county tournament],” Geertsen said. “We get those kids finding the holes, and it’s a different outcome.

“We had a very solid team defensively, as reflected by the low scores [of county tournament games]. We played good defense, and we gave up very few walks. We had several pitchers who gave up no walks in six innings, and we swung the stick. We can hit the ball.”

Still, the Kingsmen’s road to the title game was a long one. Early nerves cost them a 10-8 loss to Clackamas in their first game, and they had to win four games in the losers’ bracket to earn a shot at the title.

They won three games on Saturday, July 12, defeating Oregon City 4-3, Barlow 3-2, and avenging their first-round loss with a 6-1 win over Clackamas.

Then, they edged Canby 2-1 in an extra-inning game on July 13, to advance to the final with North Marion.

Nick Geertsen pitched 5-1/3 innings in the win over Oregon City, striking out seven, while walking no one and allowing four hits.

K.J. Ruffo earned hero honors on offense, with a walk-off double that plated John Foglio in the bottom of the sixth. The Kingsmen turned two double plays in the game.

Dakota Reber pitched in the narrow win over Barlow, striking out six, walking no one and yielding eight scattered hits. The Kingsmen turned two double plays in that contest.

Folio and Kaiden Miller pitched in the rematch with Clackamas, striking out four, walking no one and allowing only four hits.

Folio and Miller also pitched in the 2-1 extra-inning win over Canby, striking out seven, walking two and giving up three hits.

With one down in the seventh, Geertsen, Folio and Ruffo singled, bringing the winning run around.

Mills was tough in the bottom of the seventh, striking out three of four batters, and getting the final strikeout with a man on second base.

Putnam’s main pitchers this year were sixth graders Reber and Geertsen, and fifth graders Foglio, Miller and Austin Hayes.

The Kingsmen’s top hitters for the county tournament were: Geertsen (9-for-17), Tanner Drog (5-for-8), Gavin Lund (5-for-13) and Hayes (5-for-13).

Putnam players and their main positions for the 2014 season were: Geertsen (second base/shortstop/pitcher), Foglio (third base/first base/pitcher), Ruffo (catcher/pitcher), Reber (first base/outfield/pitcher), Miller (shortstop/pitcher), Gavin Lund (first base/outfield), Hayes (outfield/pitcher), Matt Petersen (third base/outfield), Drog (third base/outfield), Derek Douangphrachanh (second base/outfield) and John Irish (outfield/catcher).

Jason Reber and Allen Miller assisted Mike Geertsen in coaching the team.

A tough draw cost the Kingsmen at the 2014 Junior Federal State Tournament. They defeated West Albany 13-5 in the third-place final, after losing to to the state champion North Marion Huskies twice (11-2 and 5-2) in bracket play. In other state tournament games they dropped Aloha twice, 3-1 and 8-6.

North Marion beat Sherwood twice (15-6 and 8-7) to claim the state title, after advancing through wins over Westview (17-7) and Putnam (11-2 and 5-2).

“We were the only team [at state] that North Marion didn’t 10-run,” said Geertsen. “They were definitely the top team in the state, but we were probably second-best. They lost only two games this season, to Clackamas and us in league.”

This was the third trophy at state for several of Putnam’s players, who were state runners-up at the Junior American level last year and fourth in the state in Midget American baseball two years ago.

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