The fourth time was a charm for the Salem Withnell Dodgers Sunday, as they defeated Beaverton 9-6 in an elimination game of the American Legion AAA baseball state tournament at Bill Gray Stadium at Legion Field.

After losing the first three matchups against Beaverton earlier in the season by one run each, the Dodgers finally pulled out the victory when it mattered the most.

The Dodgers jumped on Beaverton Post 124 in the top of the first inning with seven runs. Back-to-back singles by Noah Ferguson and Mike Soper led to a two-run single by Reyes Rodriguez. Max Long would later score on a fielding error after he was walked. Another walk to Torrey Dotten loaded the bases for the Dodgers.

Tanner Sorensen came up with a clutch hit, a three-run triple, to make it 6-0.

Ferguson had an RBI groundout that scored Sorensen. The Dodgers batted through the lineup in the first inning.

“It was nice to get on it early. It has been hit or miss for us recently. Having a day like (Sunday) when it matters was a big boost to our confidence for the rest of the game,” Sorensen said. “It’s my last year here, so we want to make this last as long as possible. It was awesome to at least let our season continue another day.”

“We had great approaches at the plate. We sat fastball and hit it,” Salem coach Justin Hoffman said. “We took advantage of the free passes they gave us. That’s what you have to do to have a big inning.”

At that point Beaverton pulled its starting pitcher, Callan McRae, who didn’t record an out. Zachary Staley came in and pitched six innings for Beaverton.

But Beaverton would fight back in the bottom of the first when Connor Fajardo laid down a bunt single. Joe Ball was walked, setting up Isaac Lovings’ three-run home run that hit the left field scoreboard to make it 7-3.

Beaverton would add three more runs in the bottom of the third. Staley hit an RBI single to score Sam Winter. Manny Castiniera hit a two-run single to make it 7-6.

Cole Herschbach pitched 3 1/3 innings for the Dodgers, giving up six runs on nine hits. Ferguson came in and pitch the rest of the game and didn’t give up a run.

“I knew I had to throw strikes to give the guys behind me a chance to make plays. It allowed me to pitch further and pitch the rest of the game,” Ferguson said. “We bought into today. We got together today before the game and decided we’re going to fight, we’re going to scrap, we don’t want summer to end. We’re going to keep playing baseball until they force us to stop.”

“Noah was nails today,” Hoffman said. “Our guys have been handling adversity all year. Ferguson came and did what we asked and pitched a gem. “Those late runs were huge to manufacture runs. They played small ball and executed.”

Sorensen went 2-for-3 with a triple and a double and three RBIs. Rodriguez went 2-for-3 with three RBIs for the Dodgers and Soper was also 2-for-3.

The Dodgers would add insurance runs in the sixth and seventh innings to make it 9-6. Beaverton was unable to make timely hits throughout the game, leaving runners in scoring position several times.

Area 3 has four teams in the state tournament. The Dodgers, who finished fourth in league, had to beat Grants Pass twice in the Super Regional to make it into the tournament.

Salem 700 001 1 — 9 9 1

Beaverton 303 000 0 — 6 10 1

Herschbach, Ferguson (4) and Rodriguez; McRae, Staley (1), Hansen (7), Stevens (7) and Lovings. WP — Herschbach. Sv — Ferguson. LP — McRae. 2B — Sorenson (S). 3B — Sorenson (S). HR — Lovings (B).

Hitting — Sal. 9-27 (Ferguson 1-4, Soper 2-3, Long 1-3, Rodriguez 2-3, Culpepper 0-2, Webster 0-1, Doten 0-2, DeLoretto 0-1, Kallhoff 1-4), Bea. 10-31 (O’Connor 0-4, Fajardo 2-3, Winter 1-3, J. Ball 2-3, Davis 0-0, Lovings 1-4, Horie 1-4, Staley 2-3, Stevens 0-1, Castiniera 1-3, M. Ball 0-3). RBIs — Sal. 9 (Ferguson, Rodriguez 3, Culpepper, Sorensen 3, Kallhoff), Bea. 6 (Lovings 3, Staley, Gastiniera 2).

Part-time sports reporter Josh Gaunt can be reached at 541-957-4220 or via email at jgaunt@nrtoday.com.

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