Big-time pitching effort pushes Raiders to the district crown in Saturdays must-win finale at Main City Park

Reynolds pitcher Chance Wilson fires toward the plate during the Raiders 5-2 win in the minors championship game Saturday. “Have a short memory” is a sports cliché the Reynolds all-stars learned at an early age. Less than 24 hours after losing 16-1 to Gresham in the first game of the minors (ages 10-11) Little League all-star championship series, both sides met again at Main Street Park Saturday, in a winner-take-all scenario.

Reynolds was resilient behind the starting pitching performance of Chance Wilson, winning 5-2 to capture the district 2 title and advance to the Oregon Little League State Tournament, starting Friday in Hermiston.

“It brings me a lot of joy,” said Wilson, who recorded nine strikeouts and allowed two runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings. “It’s a very good pride to have.”

Friday turned into a fiasco for Reynolds. Needing to motivate his young players, coach Phil Harvoth remembered a speech given to him in little league from his coach and father.

After an undefeated season, Horvath’s team lost in the championship game. His father stood in front of the team and said, “flush it down the toilet.”

Following Friday night’s blowout, Horvath used those same words to instill belief.

“They completely forgot about the game and came back and battled today,” he said. “We got right back on the field this morning, started playing hard. It’s a lot of hard work over the season to let stuff like that (blowout) go.”

From the first pitch, Reynolds was ferocious. Wilson struck out five batters in the first two innings, and his offense did its own damage.

John Mayberry started a second inning rally with an RBI single to give Reynolds its first run of the game. Nelson Marshall followed, fighting butterflies as he stepped to the plate with two runners on base.

“I was really nervous at the beginning of the at-bat, but I just wanted to come up with a big hit for my team,” he said.

Calmly, Marshall laced an opposite-field triple, which drove in two runs, giving Reynolds a 3-0 lead.

“I was just really excited,” Marshall said.

Carson Strickland added on the fourth run of the inning, and that proved to be all the support Wilson needed. But Gresham still had thoughts of a comeback.

Durham Sundberg drilled a two-run home run, which cut the deficit to three in the fifth inning. Tension grew as Dan Barham followed with a two-out triple.

Sean Ryan came on in relief of Wilson and scorched the flame by retiring the first batter he faced to end Gresham’s best threat of the game.

“I think they got a little timid at the beginning of the game,” Gresham coach Jeff Olson said. “But I’m proud of those guys. They played great. I can’t ask for anything better. They gave me their best attitude and their best effort, and that’s what I asked for.”

Reynolds, after overcoming a trying defeat, now heads to the eastern part of the state with a chance to capture a state title. Reynolds faces Sheldon in the late game on Friday’s opening day.

“We were kinda nervous (Friday), but we knew we had it in us to beat them,” Marshall said. “They just played a better game than us (Friday). We played a better game than them today.”

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