The Pepsi Bottlecaps were three outs away from sending the La Grande Legacy Ford Legends into the losers’ bracket of the Class A American Legion baseball state tournament on Saturday night.
But La Grande cashed in on a pair of Pepsi errors in the top of the seventh inning and rallied to a 6-3 victory at Bill Gray Stadium at Legion Field.
Parker Robinson’s three-run double off Bottlecaps starter Logan Klopfenstein with one out turned out to be the game-winning hit. Justin Comfort added an RBI double off reliever Dakota Percell with two outs in the seventh for the Legends.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Klopfenstein, a left-hander out of Roseburg High School. “I really thought we had it going into (the seventh) inning. Things just didn’t go our way.”
La Grande (21-7), which has won eight straight, will meet defending state champion North Coos (24-6) at 1 p.m. Sunday. North Coos finished with 14 hits and whipped Central Point 14-2 Saturday.
The Bottlecaps (13-15) will face Central Point at 7 p.m. Sunday in an elimination game.
“We just stressed to the kids that today’s disappointing, and there’s nothing we can do about it other than be better tomorrow,” Pepsi coach Justin O’Byrne said. “We have to move on and have the same mentality that we did. We still have a shot, we need to be better in certain areas than we were today.”
Klopfenstein allowed nine hits and six runs in 6 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking one. He threw 111 pitches before being forced to exit due to the pitch limit.
“(Klopfenstein) did a great job. He threw really, really well and moved the ball in and out,” La Grande coach Parker McKinley said. “He changed speeds and kept us off-balance.
“I thought we pitched all right and played pretty good defense to keep the game tight. We took advantage of a couple of mistakes (by Pepsi), and got a clutch hit with two strikes. Somebody had to win it, and we’re fortunate to be on that side of it.”
Robinson, who started on the bump for the Legends and was replaced by Riley Miller in the fifth after throwing 80 pitches, finished 4-for-4 with a triple.
“(Robinson) had a great day at the plate,” McKinley said. “He does a pretty good job of using the whole field. He didn’t have his best stuff early on the mound, but did a good job and the defense kept their bats and runs in check.”
Devin Bell opened the top of the seventh by reaching base on a fielding error by Pepsi third baseman Grant Berry. Payton Cooper followed with a sacrifice bunt, but Pepsi first baseman Blake Watson dropped the throw from Klopfenstein.
Justin Frederick put runners on second and third with a sacrifice bunt. Wyatt Earp walked to load the bases, then Robinson delivered his double that went over the head of drawn-in Pepsi leftfielder Dakota Percell and gave the Legends a 5-3 lead.
“I’m pretty sure I threw him (Robinson) low and inside, and he had a good hit,” Klopfenstein said. “(Percell) was supposed to be in, so there’s nothing you can do about it.”
The Bottlecaps finished with six hits and left nine runners on base.
“Our kids battled hard for seven innings,” O’Byrne said. “We had chances early in the game to blow the doors open, but unfortunately couldn’t come up with a big base hit. We grounded into three double plays.
“Klop was fantastic on the mound. He gave us a shot late into the game, he was efficient. We had a chance to win, but were unable to make a couple of plays.”
Klopfenstein reached base four times, going 2-for-2 with a pair of singles. He was awarded first on two catcher’s interferences.
Sebastian Watson knocked in two runs for the Bottlecaps, getting beaned with the bases loaded in the second inning and hitting an infield single in the fourth. He had two hits in three at-bats.
Percell and Knox Hubbard had the other hits for Pepsi.
“We left too many guys on base,” Klopfenstein said. “That was kind of our key thing.”
Pepsi will give the ball to Austin Takahashi in Sunday’s game with Central Point.
La Grande 020 000 4 — 6 10 2
Pepsi 110 100 0 — 3 6 3
Robinson, Miller (5) and Jorgensen; Klopfenstein, Percell (7) and Paul. WP — Miller. LP — Klopfenstein. 2B — Robinson (L), Comfort (L). 3B — Cooper (L), Robinson (L).