The Pioneers advance to the Cal-Ripken regional tournament in Longview

Sandy's 12-year-old Cal Ripken team stared down a West Linn team that had haunted it in past seasons to claim the North Oregon state title Sunday, July 16.

After losing to West Linn in the state tournament the past two years, Sandy erased those memories with a 14-11 win in the championship game this season.

The teams were deadlocked 9-9 in the fifth inning before the Pioneers pulled away with a five-run burst. Brad Martin sparked the scoring spree with a two-run double, while Taylor Rydman added an RBI-double for what proved to be the winning run.

Sandy added two more runs when Noah Forest fouled off a pair of strikes to keep the inning alive. The effort paid off when a West Linn throwing error allowed Martin and Matt Rees to cross the plate and extend the lead to 14-9.

'That was a big, big deal to get those runs in,' Sandy assistant coach Randy Rees said. 'The kids felt pretty confident taking a five-run lead into the last inning.'

West Linn cut into the gap and brought the tying run to the plate in the sixth inning, but Sandy's Scooter Turin scooped up a grounder at second base to convert the final out.

'The game went back and forth the whole way,' Randy Rees said. 'Every time we would score they would come back. But we were aggressive on the bases and took advantage of every opportunity.'

Sandy fell behind 5-1 in the first inning, but tied the score in the second with RBI-singles from Turin and Aaron Larsen. The Pioneers went on to take an 8-7 lead in the third inning on an RBI-double by Ryan Cargill.

'We put together a lot of two-strike hits,' Rees said. 'One of the kids would always do something to keep things going.'

Sandy advances to play at the eight-team Regional tournament Thursday through Sunday, July 27-30 in Longview, Wash. The Pioneers open the playoffs at 1 p.m. Thursday against Idaho. The regional champion qualifies for the Cal Ripken World Series in August.

'It's going to be the best of the best,' Sandy manager Rick Martin said. 'But we're playing really well right now and our hitting has improved dramatically. You have to figure we have a shot at it.'

- Semifinals -

The Pioneers cruised past Central 11-4 in the semifinals, led by Cody Farnes who went 3 for 3 with two doubles. Forest also hit 3 for 3 in the game.

'It just seemed like every time we hit the ball it found an open hole instead of a mitt,' Rick Martin said.

- Quarterfinals -

Sandy scored its most lopsided victory in the quarterfinals where it beat Seaside 17-1. Larson hit a home run, and Martin went 3 for 4 with a double.

- Round Robin -

Sandy opened the state tournament with its only loss an 8-2 decision against a different West Linn squad.

The Pioneers recovered with a 10-5 win against Central and a 6-4 victory against Dallas to complete pool play. Rydman belted a walk-off homer in the sixth inning to beat Dallas.

Martin hit 4 for 4 against Central and hit a three-run homer against Dallas.

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