North Willamette Valley scored four runs in the fifth inning to take the lead for good and held off Roseburg’s Pepsi Bottlecaps for a 12-10 victory Thursday night in the American Legion baseball Class A state championship tournament at North Marion High School in Aurora.
Pepsi (22-8), the Area 4 North champions, dropped into a loser-out game today against Area 4 North runnerup North Coos Waterfront at 5 p.m. The Bottlecaps went 3-1 this season against North Coos, although the Waterfront won the last of the four, 13-12 in eight innings on July 19.
Pepsi will be unlikely to have its top two pitchers — Doran Gillespie and Jett Black — available for the contest. Both have starts in the tournament already, though neither picked up a decision.
North Willamette Valley will face the La Grande Legends at 8 p.m. tonight. Much of La Grande’s team played for the Class 4A high school champions in the spring. In today’s other loser-out contest, Area 4 South champion North Medford meets runnerup South Medford at 2 p.m.
As the visitor in the game, the Bottlecaps had the first crack and answered early. Both teams scored in the first 3 innings, a stretch that saw North Willamette Valley take an 8-5 lead.
In the top of the third, Gillespie led off with a solo home run to left field. It was the first homer of the tournament, but won’t be the last. The ‘Caps added another run when Jonathan Stone got an RBI when the shortstop bobbled his grounder and the game was tied 5-5, but they left the bases loaded, a situation that would haunt them later.
The Huskies responded with a three-run bottom of the third for the 8-5 advantage, starting with Isaac Hansen’s homer that struck the top of the outfield fence and bounced out. North Willamette Valley then added a run on Grant Henry’s double.
Pepsi had an answer in the fourth, scoring four runs on two hits. Jacob Westwang had the mighty blow in the frame, a three-run double to put the Bottlecaps on top 9-8.
Reliever Mason Littlefield held the Huskies scoreless in the bottom of the inning, but Hansen, who came on in relief in the fourth, gave up a single to Garrett Russell but held Pepsi scoreless in the top of the fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth, Littlefield ran into trouble and gave way to Caden Johnson with two runners on. Andy Schmitz and Grant Henry singled in runs, then Griffin Henry smacked a two-run single and North Willamette Valley was up 10-9.
Pepsi had three hits in the sixth — Jace Stoffal had an RBI single — but couldn’t get closer. In the seventh, the Bottlecaps were unable to bring the tying run to the plate.
Gillespie finished 2-for-4, while Brody Black was 3-for-4 with a double and Russell hit 3-for-4.
Pepsi 212 401 0—10 14 1
N.WillametteV. 323 040 x—12 10 5
J. Black, Littlefield (4), Johnson (5), and Six; N.A. Hansen (4) and Grant Henry; WP — Hansen. LP — Johnson. HR — Doran Gillespie (P), Hansen (NWV). 2B — B. Black (P), Smits (NWV), Gra. Henry (NWV)