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Winning twice is extra nice for Nationals

Gresham has go-ahead run taken off the scoreboard, but still beats Medford 7-3 in 10-inning battle


by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Gresham outfielder Devon Bratcher leads off from first base during the Nationals 7-3 win over Medford on Wednesday.PORTLAND — The Gresham National all-stars beat Medford National twice in one game to advance through the championship bracket at the majors (ages 11-12) state Little League tournament this week.

After leading most of the way, Gresham found itself in a 3-2 hole heading into its last at-bats after Medford put up three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Ethan Wheatley’s RBI-double to the right-field fence brought in Payton Shipley with the go-ahead run.

“This group has been down this road before,” Gresham coach Jason Trickel said. “They have that never say die mentality, so I knew they’d come out and compete in that last inning.”

The team got an early break when Tyler Pederson reached safely on a dropped third strike to lead off the inning. Two more pitches in the dirt allowed him to scramble around to third base, putting pressure on a Medford defense to avoid mistakes.

They could not.

Another dropped third strike left the catcher panicked, and he threw to first to get the out. The moment the ball left his hand, Pederson was on his way home sliding in safely just ahead of the tag to tie the score 3-3.

Medford put on a base-runner in its half of the sixth inning, but Gresham sent the game to extras when Ezra Samperi fielded a two-hopper and flipped to ball to second for a force-out.

The Nationals appeared to have the game won in the seventh when Devon Bratcher came home on a sacrifice fly, but an overturned ruling by the umpires took the run off the board.

The game was suspended due to darkness in the middle of the eighth inning, and the team’s returned to finish play Wednesday afternoon.

Gresham pitchers Brett Falkner, Greg Mehlhaff and Tyler Linch dominated the extra time, allowing only one Medford base runner through the last four innings. Falkner struck out the side in the seventh.

The Nationals broke the game open in the 10th inning when Linch reached on an error and scored the winning run on Mehlhaff’s double to left field. Gresham would stretch its lead to 7-3 on an RBI-double by Hunter Hemenway and a two-run double to center field by Falkner.

“Our kids deserved to win that game and they did win,” Trickel said. “It wasn’t our best offensive game, but it was enough to get the job done. The boys were able to stay focused even with all the drama that went on.”

Medford went down in order in the bottom of the 10th with Mehlhaff striking out the lead-off hitter, and Ethan Marshall scooping up a pair of grounders at first base to end the game.

The Nationals advanced to play Murrayhill on Thursday night with the winner punching their ticket to Saturday’s 10 a.m. title game. Results from Thursday’s game are online at greshamoutlook.com.

Gresham protected its slim 1-0 lead early Tuesday when Devon Bratcher made a diving catch in center field to get the lead-off hitter in the fourth inning.

“That was a game-changer for us,” Trickel said. “Devon’s glove is where base hits go to die.”

Still, Medford managed to load the bases in the inning before starting pitcher Hemenway chased down a two-hopper in the grass and tossed it home to end the threat.

For more on the seventh-inning umpire controversy check out Friday's print edition (July 27 issue).

by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Gresham manager Jason Trickel appeals an umpires ruling late Tuesday night that eventually ended up taking Greshams go-ahead run away.



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