Hood River Little League’s 12U all-star team placed third at last week’s District 5 tournament in Redmond at the Umatilla Sports Complex.
Crook County defeated Hood River 6-3 in Thursday’s play-in game to the championship, ending the local team’s tournament play. Bend North won the championship the next day over Crook County.
The three teams were in similar spots two years ago in 10U play. Hood River Manager Erich Harjo noted marked improvement by his players, many who played in both tournaments — with the 2020 COVID-interrupted season in between.
Hood River won its first two games at district: 6-1 over South Central in the first round June 19; and 9-4 over Crook County on June 21. In the opener, Tysen Baker and Trenton Boydston handled the pitching duties and Davin Snyder led the way at the plate. Snyder had a three-RBI day, including a two-run homer.
“Pitching and defense were very good for the majority of the time,” Harjo said. “It kept us in games. We only issued eight or nine walks in four games, which is good at this level. The teams that we played, for the most part, we made them earn their runs.”
The 9-4 win against Crook County was aided by Miles Chavez’s fourth-inning triple, which broke open what had otherwise been a close game up to that point. There were plenty of other offensive highlights for Hood River: Tyson Harjo had two hits, including a double; Aksel Betz had two hits and reached base three times; Boydston had a two-run homer; Baker and Jake Patricelli had two hits apiece; and Snyder had a double.
Baker threw four and a third innings for the pitching win, while Betz finished the game on the mound.
That earned Hood River a spot in June 23 final — of the winner’s bracket — of the double-elimination tourney, where it faced Bend North. Starting pitcher Boydston kept Bend scoreless through four innings, but Hood River couldn’t muster any offense of its own. The difference was a couple of untimely Hood River errors and a dropped third strike in the otherwise evenly played game.
The loss dropped Hood River into last Thursday’s consolation championship with the winner advancing to play Bend for the title. Hood River led 3-0 early, as starter Betz was solid on the mound. Crook County was able to steadily pull away in the later innings of the 6-3 win.
Betz had two RBI and Tyson Harjo knocked in the other Hood River run with a single.
“Our team improved quite a bit if you look at where they are now to where we were two years ago,” Coach Harjo said of he and Coach Geoff Speidel’s 12U team, which also included Owen Waits, Jackson Speidel, Landen Pratt and Tyven Wimmers. “They’ve developed as players … they’ve improved their baseball IQ. We’ve got the makings to be a pretty decent team in the coming years.”
Hood River’s 10U team finished fourth in the district tournament, splitting four games. Hood River won its opener on June 19, 26-4, over South Central before losing to eventual champion Crook County June 21. Hood River eliminated Bend South in consolation play before losing to The Dalles.
The June 23 game against The Dalles started at 5:30 p.m. and featured a lengthy lightning delay in the first inning. The teams resumed play in the back-and-forth game, which was tied 9-9 after five innings. The Dalles scored four runs in the top of the inning, but the game was called because of darkness with one out in the bottom of the frame. The teams resumed play June 24 at 1 p.m. Hood River tied the game in the bottom of the sixth, but The Dalles took control in the extra inning to advance to the consolation final.
Playing on the Hood River 10U team were: Clinton Smith, Ethan Maddox, Ezra LeBreton-Smith, Garrett Wimmers, Maddex Hockett, Nolan McNamara, Odas Rutkowski, Ryder Pratt, Tucker Hough, Turner Sullivan and Wyatt Johnson. Managing the team was Matt Hockett and coach was Ryan Pratt.