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Baker Diamondbacks lose heartbreaker
By Jayson Jacoby
Almost always, a baseball team is happy to turn a double play.
But once in a while, only a triple play is good enough.
This exceedingly rare circumstance contributed to the Baker City Diamondbacks losing 4-3 to Newberg Friday morning in the quarterfinals of the Babe Ruth 13-15-year-old state tournament at the Baker Sports Complex.
Coach Tim Smith needed only one word to describe the 11-inning game that ended the Diamondbacks’ stay in the tournament.
Baker City’s other tournament team, the Bulldogs, lost to Union County in a quarterfinal game Friday afternoon.
With the Diamondbacks trailing 2-0 in the third inning, Bryson Smith hit a based loaded double that scored all three runners and gave Baker a 3-2 lead.
Newberg tied the score at 3 with a single run in the fifth, and that’s where the scoreboard stayed for the next five innings.
In the top of the 11th, Newberg had runners on first and third with no outs.
The batter hit a ground ball to the left side of second base. Bryson Smith at shortstop scooped up the ball, stepped on second and threw to first for the double play.
Newberg’s Hayden Greene, who was on third base, broke for home and just beat the throw.
Had he been a step or two slower, Baker would have had a triple play and a chance to win the game in the bottom of the 11th.
Instead, the Diamondbacks needed to score a run to avoid defeat.
Baker’s Devon Davis reached base with a one-out single, but a popout and a strikeout ended the threat, and the game, after more than three hours.
“It was an amazing game,” Tim Smith said. “I told the kids that if you’re going to be in athletics you’ll have losses like that.”
Smith said the crowd at the Sports Complex grew with each extra inning.
Trevor Bennett started on the mound for the Diamondbacks. Smith said relief pitcher Rab Bowers kept Baker in the game by throwing five scoreless innings.
Smith said players from both teams were exhausted after the marathon game.
That might have contributed to Newberg’s loss to The Dalles in Saturday morning’s championship semifinal. Smith said Newberg had to use both of its top two pitchers in the win over the Diamondbacks.
The Dalles went on to beat Union County 8-4 in the championship game Saturday afternoon.
“It was a good tournament,” Smith said.
He said Baker City will play host to the regional Babe Ruth tournament in July 2014.
Smith didn’t have statistics for weekend games because Babe Ruth officials needed to take the official tournament scorebook to the regional tournament.