Only host Vacaville can slow Ringor in the finale of the AAU World Series
by: submitted photo, CELEBRATE — Beaverton Ringor players mob each other in celebration after finishing second in the AAU 19-U World Series in Vacaville, Calif.

VACAVILLE, Calif. - So close.

So, so close.

The Beaverton Ringor team did everything but walk away with the national title at the recently completed AAU Baseball 19-U World Series. After opening the tournament with two wins in three games to reach the Series quarterfinals, Ringor knocked out two straight opponents to earn a berth in the Series finale, but fell short there, dropping a 6-4 decision to the Vacaville Vikings last Thursday at Travis Credit Union Park.

'The tournament was a great event and I am so proud of the way our players handled the situation,' said Ringor manager Len Clarke. 'Winning a silver medal was a terrific accomplishment.'

While short of a Series championship, Ringor's success provided a fitting cap to Clarke's long career coaching amateur baseball, most of that in Little League and Babe Ruth.

'Our players will have a memory of a tournament we should have won if it had not been for a field that was, unfortunately, big enough to hold us,' Clarke said. But 'this team was a pleasure to coach and they will all be heading off to college teams in the fall with a positive memory of a summer spent with good competition and new friends that will have the World Series experience in common for life.'

Clarke also thanked his coaching staff, many who have traveled with Clarke's various Ringor teams for many summers, including Craig Mitchell, Andy Peterson, Mason Smith, Jim Rider, Ton Rectenwald and Jim O'Leary.

Vacaville 6, Ringor 4

Proud as they were of their second-place finish, Ringor's players couldn't help but think what might have been after their title-game loss. Ringor out-hit Vacaville 9-6 in the game, stranded 10 runners on base and saw four of its long balls caught short of Travis Park's 400-foot fences.

'The most frustrating issue was that we hit long balls that did not find the gaps and came close to four (homers) that missed by only a few feet,' Clarke said.

Vacaville also benefited from the strong pitching performance of Ryan Bartlett, who used his changeup and fastball to keep Ringor off-balance and notch a complete-game victory.

'They went ahead on hits that found open spots while we hit shots right at their defense,' Clarke said. 'Our balls simply did not find holes.'

Ringor pitchers Eric Renander, Kyle Hefley, Trey Watt and Jordan Post were strong, too, combining to pitch a six-hitter, but Vacaville simply made better use of its chances. The Vikings broke on top with an RBI double from Ryan Lipkin and an RBI triple from Chris Curtis in the second, then boosted their edge to 4-0 with a two-run single in the fourth.

Ringor answered with one run in the fourth, but Vacaville added two more in the sixth to make it 6-1 before Ringor added its final three runs late in the game. Zach Mandelblatt and Jake Rasmussen led Ringor with two hits each.

Ringor 14, LA All Sports 3

Ringor got an early shock in its semifinal against LA All Sports July 26, seeing the speedy California team use its aggressive baserunning ('They stole bases with ease and advanced on base hits like there was no opposition,' Clarke said) to grab a 3-1 lead after the first inning.

But Ringor rallied to tie the game in the third, moved in front in the fourth, then took control with 10 runs in the fifth and sixth.

'After the first inning, our defense was awesome,' Clarke said. 'We made excellent plays with no errors and kept them off the bases the rest of the game.'

Steve Hernandez threw six innings, striking out four while allowing four hits and three walks. The offense was led by Colin Clark's 4-for-4 day; he also scored three times and contributed four RBIs. Mandelblatt, Post, Tony Stutevoss, Rasmussen and Chris Oki added two hits each to send the team into the championship game.

Ringor 3, Hurricanes 2

Pitcher Ryan Koffel stepped up big-time when his team needed him in the tournament quarterfinals on July 26, throwing a complete game gem that included six strikeouts and four hits.

Offensively, Evan Dunn went 2-for-2, scored one and knocked in another. Renander had two hits and scored once, while Post had two RBIs on sacrifice flies.

As great as all that was, Clarke was left with as much pride in his team's off-field performance as its excellent efforts on it.

'We stayed at a local motel who proclaimed us the best team ever to stay at the facility,' he added. 'The Oregon team representatives made us all proud to be associated with the team. Our conduct on and off the field was outstanding. Only a deep fence stopped us from winning the gold.'

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