Tuesday, June 18, 2013
The 2013 Hood River Little League Baseball season climaxed on Saturday with a league championship matchup between the top-two boys majors (age 12U) teams — Windmaster Market of Hood River and the Odell Lions.
Windmaster (10-3), guided by manager Russ Gray, came into the regular season finale riding a seven-game win streak. Its momentum proved unstoppable, as the team captured the title with a 10-0 “Mercy Rule” win in four innings over Odell (7-5) at the St. Mary’s Sports Complex in Hood River.
“We had kind of a rough start and lost three early games,” said Gray, whose assistant coaches are Jeff Hasegawa and Dan Homer Sr. “Midway through the season, we had a team meeting to discuss some things and after that we were undefeated and made it to the championship. We won eight straight to finish the season and we’re very proud of the boys.”
Pitcher JJ Mears had a tremendous performance on the mound while utilizing a fastball and curveball in throwing a two-hitter to help lead Windmaster to the victory. For Mears, who had eight strikeouts and a walk, it was the fewest hits he’s allowed in a game this year. Mears was solid at the plate too, batting 2-for-2 with a home run (his fourth), single, two RBI and two runs scored.
“I just tried to throw strikes and my teammates just made good plays on defense,” said Mears. “It was exciting to win the championship game and it’s been a really fun season. I think I might make the all-star team too, so that would be fun to play at the district tournament in Bend.”
Windmaster took advantage of Odell’s first-inning pitching mistakes (two walks, hit batter) to gain the upper hand early in the contest at Jim Winters Memorial Field. Windmaster loaded the bags as the first three batters (Michael Hasegawa, Mears, Ryan Gray) reached base.
A bases-loaded walk and Mears’ steal of home led to a 2-0 edge. Nolan Ryan (1-for-2, double, fielder’s choice) and Gabriel Pineco (1-for-2, single) followed with solid hits to drive in runs and make it 4-0 after one inning.
Windmaster again capitalized on Odell miscues (three errors, walk, passed ball, wild pitch) to double the margin to 8-0 in the second inning, highlighted by a two-run Mears homer over the 200-foot centerfield fence.
“JJ has had a great year and some of the other boys on our team will move on to play all-stars,” said Russ Gray, who won his first LL championship of his six-year coaching career. “We expect the all-star team to have success at the upcoming district tournament in Bend, which starts on June 28.”
After a scoreless third, Windmaster ended the contest early when Ryan Gray (2-for-2, two singles, walk, two runs) and Dan Homer Jr. both hit RBI singles for the fourth inning 10-run final margin.
“The kids worked hard all season; they came out here to participate in extra practices, too, and it all paid off today,” said Russ Gray (Ryan’s dad). “They’ve been hitting the ball pretty good the last couple of weeks and when you do that, good things happen offensively.
“Every boy on the team has continued to get better and that’s why we’re here. We help them become better players and help them learn to enjoy playing baseball. This is a great group of kids and so are their parents as well.”
Mears didn’t allow any hits until the third and fourth, when Odell’s Grayson Losee and German Diaz both connected for singles. For Odell, led by coach Sal Rivera, Losee and Diaz were the only Lion batters to get a hit.
n In the first game of the day for third and fourth place, Apple City (11-2) won 9-1 over White Salmon.