NORTH BEND — Coming off a high from their thrilling upset over the American Legion A state favorites the day before, the North Jackson players knew they would have to give Hillsboro, the only team to beat the Royals in the tournament, all they had to reach Sunday’s afternoon title game.
That sense of urgency may have caused uncharacteristic miscues to accumulate for the Royals, yet the club still had a chance in the top of the seventh.
But trailing by one run with two outs and the bases loaded, Darin Marsh gave the Royals one final crack of the bat to deep center field. It wasn’t to be, however, as the SkySox outfielder made a spectacular overhead catch on the run to preserve the 4-3 win and championship berth for Hillsboro at Clyde Allen Field.
Despite the loss, the Royals completed their season with a 22-12 record and a third place finish in the state tournament.
“It was a great effort by our kids,” said North Jackson coach Tyson Wolfe. “They battled all week. It was a great showing for them.
With one loss in the double-elimination event, the Royals needed to beat the SkySox to reach the championship game where the favorites, North Coos, awaited the victor. North Coos went on to beat Hillsboro in the championship, 15-1, and will advance to regionals.
The Royals out-hit the SkySox 10-6 and had just one error to three for Hillsboro, but questionable decision making, overaggressive baserunning and stranding too many runners doomed North Jackson, which squandered bases-loaded situations in the seventh as well as the second innings, while leaving runners aboard in each inning.
“Right out of the gates, we were going backwards and the momentum switched.” said Wolfe.
“I would compare this game to a round of golf,” said Wolfe. “You get a great drive then all of a sudden you have a bad chip or miss a putt. That’s the kinda game it was. Oh we’re going to make the birdie putt. Oh, we missed the birdie putt.”
Kyler Kendrick pitched well but an arrant throw on a pickoff allowed the leadoff baserunner in the top of the sixth inning to reach second. Kendrick then balked and a bobbled ball put runners on first and third base. They next batter hit a sacrifice fly that put the SkySox in the lead, 4-3.
Kendrick pitched a complete game with five strikeouts, allowing four runs — just two were earned — on six hits and three walks.
John Alves went 2-for-3 with an RBI while both Devin Foulon and Kolbi Blevins finished 2-for-4. Foulon also drove in a run.
North Jackson Royals 001 020 0 — 3 10 1
Hillsboro SkySox 012 001 x — 4 6 3
Kendrick, Bradd (6) and Alves; Koons, Ineson (5), Hoskins (6) and Dickford. W — Ineson. L — Kendrick. 2B — H: Hoskins, Dickford, Woodberry.
MEDFORD ROGUES 9, YUBA SUTTER GOLD SOX 6: At Marysville, Cole Elvis and Mitchell Neunborn each had late-inning two-run home runs to back Robby Ahlstrom’s strong performance at the mound as Medford completed a three-game sweep of Yuba Sutter at Colusa Casino Stadium.
Neunborn went deep in the seventh inning to put the Rogues (29-24) up 6-3. Elvis hit his out in the Rogues’ three-run ninth inning for insurance.
Elvis finished 3-for-5, Neunborn was 2-for-4 and Cole Carder went 3-for-5 with a couple of doubles. All three crossed home plate twice.
Ahlstrom struck out six over five innings for his second win of the season. He allowed two unearned runs on three hits and two walks.
Blake Baumgartner went 2-for-6 and Marcus Lydon drove in two runs for the Rogues.
The Gold Sox dropped to 14-37.
Medford Rogues 001 111 203 — 9 12 3
Yuba Sutter Gold Sox 100 010 103 — 6 7 3
Ahlstrom, Moore (6), Diaz (7), Giles (8) and Elvis; Ahem, Aguigui (6), Meister (6), Spurling (7), Burgarin (8) and Terao. W — Ahlstrom (2-2). L — Aguigui (0-1). 2B — M: Carder 2, Lydon. HR — M: Neunborn, Elvis; YS: Harper.