KLL squad makes state tourney run

Mason Marsden sprints down the line after hitting a ground ball to the left side in Keizer’s first matchup with Wilsonville on Sunday, July 7. (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

The Keizer Little League Intermediate 50/70 13-U team fell just short of a trip to regionals as they took second place at the state tournament July 6-9 in Portland. 

Keizer started off the tournament on a high note by defeating Scappoose 16-6 in the opening game on Saturday, July 6. Jayden Baptise led the offensive charge by going 4-for-5 at the plate with a homer and five RBIs. Ethan Ortiz added three hits and four RBIs in the victory.

After Scappoose struck for two runs in the top of the first, Keizer came back with five runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame. 

Riley Castillo hit a two-run double to get Keizer on the board. Moments later, after Baptise came into score on a passed ball, Dougie Howard blasted a two-run double of his own to extend the advantage to 5-2.

Scappoose cut the deficit to one with a pair of runs in the top of the second, but Keizer was able to respond in the bottom of the third. 

Ortiz drove a two-run single to right field to make the score 7-4 in favor of Keizer, who would push two more across before the end of the inning. 

Keizer really broke things open in the bottom of the sixth with seven runs in the inning, thanks to RBI singles from Castillo, Ortiz and Zach Snegirev. Baptise ended the contest via run-rule with a solo bomb.

“The kids came ready to hit,” Keizer head coach Brent Gilmour said. 

However, they couldn’t recreate the magic the following day as they lost in heartbreaking fashion to the eventual champion, Wilsonville, by a score of 7-6. 

Keizer grabbed the early lead in the top of the first after scoring an unearned run. Jaxon DeFabis, who got the start on the mound, pitched a pair of scoreless innings to begin his outing. But the big righty gave up four runs in the bottom of the third, including a two-run homer, allowing Wilsonville to take a 4-1 lead. 

After a RBI-single from Baptise, in the top of the fifth, Wilsonville responded with two runs of their own in the bottom half to increase their lead to 6-2. But Keizer was able to show their resiliency in the following frame. 

Ben Lester was hit by a pitch to being the top of the sixth. Keizer then loaded up the bases when Drake Sullivan and Mason Marsden each drew walks. 

DeFabis lined a single into left field to score Lester. Sullivan came in on a passed ball and Marsden eventually came home on an infield single by Castillo. 

DeFabis tied the game at 6-6 after scoring on a fielder’s choice by Castillo. But Wilsonville walked off with the victory in the bottom of the seventh when Luke Haener hit the game-winning RBI-single. 

“We made too many mistakes on the base paths, but we have been aggressive on the bases all season and we weren’t going to change that,” Gilmour said. 

Despite the painful loss, Keizer came back on Monday, July 8 with a thrilling 7-6 win over Brookings Harbor International to advance to the championship round. 

Castillo led the way by going 2-for-4 with three RBIs. 

Keizer found themselves down 3-0 through four-and-a-half innings. But even though they were held without a hit up to this point, the Keizer offense found their groove in the bottom of the fifth.

DeFabis ended the shutout with a two-run double to center field, scoring Lester and Marsden while advancing Howard to third. Castillo followed with a two-run hit of his own to give Keizer their first lead of the evening. 

“Once they get going with the bats, they can be hard to stop,” Gilmour said of his team.

Two batters later, Snegirev hit an RBI-double to left field, giving Keizer the 5-3 lead. After Brookings came back to tie it with two runs in the top of the sixth, another RBI-hit for Castillo gave Keizer the lead back. 

Brookings tied the game once again in the top of the seventh to extend the contest, but in the bottom of the inning, Baptise came up clutch for the Keizer little leaguers.

Snegirev led off the inning by drawing a walk. Two pitches later, he advanced to second thanks to a balk from the Brookings pitcher. 

With a 1-1 count, Baptise hit a hard ground ball that got up the middle for a base hit, allowing Snegirev to score from second, sending Keizer to victory and eliminating Brookings from the tournament. 

But on Tuesday, July 9, the Keizer run came to an end at the hands of Wilsonville once again. The short-handed Keizer pitching staff couldn’t keep Wilsonville off the bases, while the offense wasn’t able to provide much of a threat as Keizer fell to the Wildcats 10-0 in five innings.

“Wilsonville is a very talented and well-coached team and we just couldn’t get anything going against them the second time around,” Gilmour said. 

While it wasn’t the way they wanted it to end, Gilmour was incredibly proud of how his team fought and competed as they ended the season with a 17-4 record.

“There were many opportunities to give up, but these kids kept battling, which has been the story of our season,” Gilmour said. 

If you have a child between the ages of 12 and 13 that would be interested in playing baseball this fall, contact Brent Gilmour at 503-910-7233 or at [email protected].