Forest Grove baseball team caps a super season with a fifth-place finish at state

Forest Grove played host to the Junior Baseball of Oregon (JBO) Midget American state championship tournament last weekend, with the top 14 teams from around the state competing from Thursday through Sunday at both Lincoln Park and Thatcher Park.

North Marion captured the tournament championship, beating the “Hammer” team from Camas, Wash., in the title game on Sunday. Canby finished third, Putnam was fourth, and Forest Grove and McMinnville tied for fifth place.

Forest Grove, which qualified by winning the Washington County tournament on July 22, won its first two games at the state tourney last weekend before falling to the eventual champions from North Marion.

Forest Grove coach Tim Hesselman’s team of 8-10 year olds won their first game last Thursday morning against Aloha, 6-4, and followed that up with a 9-3 victory over Keizer in the afternoon.

The Vikings’ first loss came on Friday against North Marion. Forest Grove jumped out to an early lead with a five-run first inning, but North Marion rallied to go ahead 11-8 heading into the final frame.

Forest Grove scored two runs in the last inning and put the tying run on third base with two outs, but couldn’t score the tying run, allowing North Marion to advance with an 11-10 win.

That sent Forest Grove to the consolation bracket, where the Vikings met up with Canby on Saturday.

Forest Grove used a five-run fourth inning to take a one-run lead into the final stanza, but Canby plated the tying run in the fifth to force extra innings.

Canby scored two runs in the sixth inning to go ahead 12-10, and Forest Grove managed just one run of its own in the bottom of the frame, bouncing the Vikings from the double-elimination tournament.

Forest Grove went 11-3 during the regular season and tied McMinnville for the Washington County championship, but lost a one-game playoff to determine the top seed for the state tournament.

For the regular season, the Vikings’ team batting average was .342, led by Colten Hesselman, who hit .600 with 18 hits in 14 games. Forest Grove was led on the mound by the strong arm of Daniel Pruitt.

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