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Forest Grove teams shine in postseason


Youth baseball organization qualifies three teams for respective state tournaments

by: COURTESY PHOTO - Forest Grove Youth Baseball's Junior National team finished second in its district tournament as well as fourth at its state tournament, which was staged earlier this month in Lebanon. Team members are (back row, from left) coaches Phil Peters, Jim Swenson and Carl Ammann; (middle row) Ayden Case, Noah Munoz-Cooper, Cameron Louie, James Crane, Jake Pittman, Braden Ammann, Cameron Bennett, Eliy Slaughter, Zach Burke and Tyler Swenson; (front row) Izzy Ahmad and Garrett Peters.July has been a pretty good month for Forest Grove Youth Baseball.

That’s because this month is Junior Baseball Organization playoff time, and Forest Grove teams have been doing their fair share of winning in the postseason. Two of the organization’s teams recorded top-four finishes in their respective state tournaments, while another also advanced to state.

Playing in the highest of JBO’s three tiers, the Midget Federal team (ages 9 and 10) won its district tournament earlier this month to advance to the state tournament, which was staged Thursday through Sunday at Mooberry Elementary School in Hillsboro.

The Vikings raced through the winners bracket during the early part of the competition, defeating North Marion 9-4 and trouncing Sherwood 7-1. On Saturday, in a game that assured the winner a berth in the championship series, the Vikings fell 3-0 to Canby, last year’s state champion, who would go on to repeat on Sunday. That contest held at 1-0 from early on until Canby scored a couple of insurance runs late.

After dropping an 11-8 decision to McMinnville Sunday morning, Forest Grove exited the tournament with a third-place finish and a team plaque and medals. For four of the players, that result was quite turnaround. Those four were returners from last year’s team, which only one game in league play, coach Tim Hesselman said.

“We had a good year,” Hesselman said. “We won a lot of tournaments and won a lot of our league games. Overall, it’s been a great season, and I think we can build on what we did this year for next year.”

The team also had fun off the field, Hesselman noted, doing a lot of team bonding. For example, on one outing for a birthday party, the team rented a charter boat and went fishing.

The players on that Midget Federal roster are Holden Bateman, Tyler Rebsom, Dylan Schoen, Trevor Cannon, Wyatt Hesselman, Kaden Clute, Demetri Kleintob, Ryder Davis, Colten Hesselman, Cooper Gobel, Luke Calvert and Brendan Couture. Coaches are is Tim Hesselman, Trevor Schmidtke, Chris Calvert and Jimmy Doyle.

The Junior National squad (ages 11 and 12) also recorded a top-four finish at its state tournament. That capped a season in which the team lost its first game before going on a 13-0 tear in league play and then finished second in its district tournament to qualify for state, held July 10-13 at Bob Smith Park in Lebanon.

Once at state, the Vikings split their first two games — beating Lebanon 6-3 before dropping a 7-2 decision to Washougal. Then Forest Grove rattled off three straight wins against Rockwood, Keizer and Newberg to stay in the event. Coach Carl Ammann called that win against Newberg a “personal victory” for his team, as Newberg was the side that topped Forest Grove at the district tournament.

The squad’s run ended with a loss to eventual third-place team Glencoe, but the Vikings finished just one spot behind in fourth.

“Our success was a shared effort with every boy putting out 100 (percent), the coaches (including Jim Swenson and Phil Peters) who worked hard with the kids and the parents who supported the boys all season,” Ammann said by email. “This was a dream season for me and I am immensely proud of each and every boy on our team.”

The players on Forest Grove’s Junior National team are Garrett Peters, Zach Burke, Braden Ammann, James Crane, Cameron Louie, Izzy Ahmad, Ayden Case, Eliy Slaughter, Tyler Swenson, Noah Munoz-Cooper, Cameron Bennett and Jake Pittman.

Forest Grove’s Midget National team also advanced to its state tournament, which was staged at Mooberry July 10-13. The Vikings beat Clackamas 8-2 in their first game and just missed in their next two, losing to Gladstone and Putnam, each game by just a run.

Those three teams helped generate a considerable year-over-year improvement in the organization.

“We won 29 percent of our games last year as a program,” said Hesselman, a Forest Grove Youth Baseball vice president. “And this year, we’re sending multiple teams to state, so it’s been a big turnaround.”

For more information about Forest Grove Youth Baseball, go to forestgroveyouthbaseball.com.