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NPI-Papa Murphys square off for TOC title

NPI won the first meeting, but Papa Murph's comes back with win and forces tourney 'if' game
by: John Brewington, Papa Murphy’s Cameron Sexton (6) heads to the plate as NPI catcher Jordan Simonson gets ready to tag him out. The game was the second meeting of the two teams in the Minors Tournament of Champions. NPI won the first and Papa Murphy’s won this game on Monday, to force a second championship game on Tuesday night.

Two St. Helens teams, Papa Murphy's and NPI were scheduled to play Tuesday for the third time in four days to determine the Little League Minors Tournament of Champions victor.

NPI (National Property Inspection) posted an 8-4 win over Papa Murphy's Saturday in a battle of two unbeaten teams in the 13-team tournament. The win gave NPI a break until Monday, waiting for a semifinal winner from the loser's bracket in the double elimination tournament.

Papa Murphy's went up against Sunshine Pizza, a victor over Dutch Bros. of St. Helens, on Saturday. The loser would be eliminated and the winner advance to the finals.

Papa Murphy's had to score two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull off the 11-10 win. Little League plays just six innings in a game.

The victory sent Papa Murphy's back up against NPI, but needing to win twice to take the championship. They got the job done with a convincing 13-2 win. Logan Travis threw 4-1/3 solid innings to hold down NPI scoring. He also had two big hits for three RBIs, and made a nice sliding catch in left field after leaving the mound.

Going into the finals Tuesday, it appeared Papa Murphy's had momentum, but with five games over the last week they will be limited in their pitching under Little League rules. It will also be the sixth game for NPI, so they too may have pitching issues.

The Tuesday championship game may be moved to Wednesday if the weather did not cooperate. It was raining Tuesday morning.

Three teams got first-round byes in the tournament. Sunshine Pizza, Papa Murphy's, NPI, Dr. Valachi, and Dutch. Bros. of Scappoose all advanced. In the second round, Sunshine beat Valardi Electric, Papa Murphy's topped Steinfeld's, NPI beat Dr. Valachi, and Dutch Bros. of St. Helens beat their Scappoose counterparts. That would leave four St. Helens teams unbeaten. Papa Murphy's downed Sunshine for the first time to advance, and NPI beat Dutch Bros.

Meanwhile in the lower bracket, Lower Columbia Insurance eliminated Pacific Service, and then they were eliminated by Steinfeld's. Valardi Electric sent Brackin packing, Dutch Bros. Scappoose advanced with a win over NW Structural, and Troyco eliminated Dr. Valachi. Sunshine Pizza and Dutch Bros.-St. Helens would emerge as the last two standing in the lower bracket. Sunshine won, but then lost narrowly to Papa Murphy's in the next round. Dutch Bros.-St. Helens was fourth, and Sunshine Pizza was third.