*This story has been corrected
The Lake Oswego Little League Majors all-stars went down fighting.
Lake Oswego, facing Tigard at the Oregon District 4 baseball tournament on Sunday with a semifinal berth on the line, fell behind by 10 runs after just 2 1/2 innings.
But that was not the end of Lake Oswego's story. Lake Oswego battled back through its final four at-bats and pushed Tigard to the limit before finally falling 12-9 at Alpenrose Dairy's stadium field.
"It was pretty scary but I knew we could make a good comeback," said Lake Oswego catcher Bryan Ramirez, who went 3 for 3 at the plate, reached base all five times he batted, drove in four runs and scored twice. "I really thought we could get it in the last inning but we were just short."
"I knew we could come back and I thought we could win the whole game from the beginning," added LO right fielder Henry Smith, who went 3 for 3 at the plate and scored three times in the loss. "I definitely thought we could win that game."
With the win, Tigard improved to 2-1 in pool play and advanced to Monday's tournament semifinal against Beaverton Aloha Little League. Lake Oswego, which had entered Sunday's game tied with Tigard, fell to 1-2 in pool play and was eliminated.
Tigard's fast start — the team scored six times in the top of the first inning and pushed across four more runs in the third — played a huge role in its Sunday victory. In the first inning, Tigard banged out six hits (including three doubles), getting a two-run double from Boone Coffman, a two-run single by Joey Jones and run-scoring hits from Theo Jones and Aidan Wilson to lead 6-0.
Then, after Lake Oswego went scoreless in its first two at-bats, Tigard tacked on four more runs in the top of the third inning to grab a commanding 10-0 lead. Highlights there included a two-run single to center field by Coffman and another RBI from Jones.
"We were all a little stiff, we weren't playing loose and we had a couple of errors," explained Lake Oswego shortstop Charlie Grimm, who went 3 for 4, drove in two runs and scored three times. "We just needed to keep our heads up and stay loose."
Lake Oswego did just that, finally getting its bats going in the third inning. Luke Filkins got things started with a walk, Smith singled to left and Brodie Heher followed with a run-scoring sacrifice fly to center. Grimm then drove in another run with a hit to left, and Ramirez cut the deficit to 10-3 when he doubled to center.
Then, after pitcher Stevie Mooney threw a scoreless fourth — he came on in relief of Heher — Lake Oswego scored another three in its half of the inning to move within 10-6. Smith got things started with a two-out single and Lake Oswego loaded the bases on hits by Heher and Grimm. Ramirez then doubled over the head of the Tigard right fielder to plate two runs and Ryan Peeler added an RBI single to center.
Tigard rallied with two runs in the fifth — both scoring on Matthew Beckett's single to center — pushed its lead to 12-6. After Tigard reliever Mason Gray pitched a perfect fifth, Lake Oswego was down to its last at-bat.
But Lake Oswego made that last at-bat count, getting a leadoff double to center by Smith and bringing him home on Grimm's one-out single to left. Grimm, who advanced to third on a Tigard error, then scored on Ramirez's groundout to make it 12-8.
Peeler stepped up next with a double to center, and Caden Saefke then hit a hard single that bounced off Gray, skipped past the Tigard second baseman into right field and scored pinch runner Filkins for the final 12-9 margin.
"I thought that we were going to lose in the first three innings, but then we started hitting them and Ryan Peeler was yelling really loudly and then we kind of got back up," Grimm said. "It was pretty fun."
"I think this game was definitely the best for us because, even though we lost, we never stopped trying," Smith said. "We just came through as good as we could."
Peeler went 2 for 4 with one RBI in the loss, while Filkins scored twice. For Tigard, Coffman went 3 for 3, knocked in four and scored three times, Jones was 3 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs, and Beckett went 3 for 4 and scored twice.
Lake Oswego also got contributions from Logan Schwartzkopf, Kyle Brennan, Brady Wear and Mathew McCauliff.
*This story was corrected to reflect the proper spelling of Lake Oswego player Brodie Heher