Nationals win opener
Gresham Nats advance to face Clackamas at 3 p.m. Saturday.
TROUTDALE - The Gresham Nationals scored in every inning to knock off the Centennial all-stars 12-2 in the second round of the rookies (ages 9-10) Little League district tournament Thursday.
After seeing Centennial break out to a 2-1 lead in the first inning, the Nationals chipped away and moved on top in the third when Jayden Nehler hit a two-out, two-strike single into shallow left field to bring in Kimo Hiu with what proved to be the winning run.
Centennial pitcher Nicholas Espinoza prevented further damage with a strikeout on a full count to end the inning, stranding a Gresham runner at third base.
The Nationals began to pull away with a three-run spurt in the fourth inning, sparked by Kooper Huff's two-run double to center field. The speedy Hiu added another run when he beat out an infield grounder, allowing Huff to come home for a 6-2 lead.
Centennial tried to get back into the game in the fifth inning after Andres Montes-Lewis connected on a lead-off double. But the Nationals erased the threat with a double play when shortstop Jayden Sare snagged a bouncer out of the dirt and fired to first base for an out. An alert first baseman Trevor Bless sent a quick throw across the infield where teammate Kyle Stanton was able to tag out the lead runner just off third base.
The Nationals put up six more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Kai Kiyokawa started the rally when he saw a pitch spinning in the dirt about 10 feet to the side of home plate. That gave him just enough time to sprint down the third-base line and slide in safely ahead of the tag.
Approaching the 10-run rule, Sare appeared ready to end the game with one swing of the bat when he sent a towering shot toward center field. But the ball came down on the warning track for an RBI-double and a 10-2 lead.
The Nationals would end the game early two batters later when Reece McKenzie hit an RBI-single through the middle to bring in Sare.
Gresham's Kyle Stanton drew three walks in the game, scoring each time he got on base. Huff finished with a triple, a double and a walk, while collecting three RBIs.
Nationals pitchers Nehler and Kiyokawa combined to throw four shutout innings to end the game.
Reynolds Black defeated Mountain View in Thursday's other matchup.
The tournament wraps up at 6 p.m. Thursday with its championship game.