With a gratifying sense of accomplishment, Hood River’s 13-14-year-old Junior Baseball of Oregon team traveled to Gladstone High School Monday to face Sherwood in a play-in round of the state playoff tournament.
The boys went into the game knowing that no matter how they did, just making it to the tournament was a great accomplishment in itself. The all 13-year-old team qualified for state after finishing second in the Tri County League tournament, held over the weekend at Collins Field in Hood River.
“Being an all-13-year-old team, just to get to the state tournament was a big goal for the boys,” coach Larry Williams said Monday en route to Gladstone. “It’s quite an accomplishment for them.”
The team faced Sherwood Monday evening in a win-or-go-home game. After leading all game, the boys saw their lead slip away at the bottom of the seventh inning for a heartbreaking 8-7 loss.
“It’s a hard loss to take,” Williams said Tuesday morning. “We had them the whole game until the last out of the last inning. It’s a tough way to go out, but we had a great season; the kids had a lot of fun and we played a lot of baseball.”
The team opened its district tournament last week with a game under the lights Friday night against Gresham. They were handed a tough 11-1 loss, but followed that Saturday with an 8-6 win against Barlow’s 13-year-old team and a nail-biting 2-1 win later that day against the tournament’s top seed, Barlow’s 14-year-old team.
The back-to-back wins put the boys in the final game Sunday against the same Gresham team.
“It was a close game; we were tied 2-2 after five innings,” Williams said about the eventual 8-2 loss. “We just fell apart at the end. Our real highlight was the 2-1 win Saturday to put us in the finals. Isaiah Enriquez pitched all seven innings and absolutely pitched the best game of his life. The boys played their hearts out, and it was the biggest win of their lives.”