'Clear eyes. Full heart. Can't lose'
Clackamas is district champion in 9-10 Little League
Their battle cry at practices and games all season long was Clear eyes. Full heart. Cant lose. And it paid dividends June 25 through July 2 as they left it all on the field at the Little League District 2 Championship Tournament, capturing the first-place team trophy and earning a spot in the 2014 Little League State Championship Tournament.
They are the Clackamas Little League Gold 9-10 baseball team. There are 13 boys on the team. Eleven live in Milwaukie and two are from Oregon City. They first came together as all-stars in mid-June, and theyve taken District 2 by storm.
They really bought into [our mantra], said Noah Salvione, who is one of three coaches of the standout 9-10 team. They chant it at every practice and before and after every game. Clear eyes. Full heart. Cant lose.
They played with a lot of focus, emotion and grit. They played smart and they played tough. They were a really special group of boys. Everyone had their roles and everyone contributed in some way. They were a really neat team to be a part of.
Salvione explained the meaning of the mantra: If you play your best and give it your all, youre winners, no matter what, win or lose. These boys were winners!
The tournament championship is all the more gratifying for the team and their coaches, because its thought to be the first time a Clackamas Little League 9-10 baseball team has won a district championship.
Clackamas Gold breezed to victory in three of its four games of the double elimination championship tournament, defeating Gresham all-stars 11-1 in the championship game, after early tournament wins over Reynolds (7-2) and Barlow (9-1).
Their only tough game came in the semifinal, where they had to rally from a 5-1 late-game deficit to beat Gresham 6-5.
We play six innings and we were behind 5-1 heading into the fifth inning, Salvione said.
Clackamas Gold tied things up with four runs in the bottom of the fifth, after holding Gresham scoreless in the top of the fifth, despite some drama.
There were some defensive heroics in the top of the fifth. With one down, a Gresham baserunner was thrown out at second, in attempting to stretch a single into a double. Second baseman Peyton Levi made the tag, taking the relay from shortstop Vinny Salvione, on a throw in from centerfielder Travis Varner.
Gresham then loaded the bases on a walk and two singles, before Salvione made an unassisted putout at second base to end the inning.
Christopher Lynch fired up Clackamas in the bottom of the fifth with a lead-off triple. Lynch scored on a base hit by J.D. Hayes, and Salvione brought Lynch around with a one-out triple. With two down, Ethan Anderson drew a walk. Salvione scored on a wild pitch, and pinch runner Jude Sumner scored on a double by Jackson Brown, and it was a 5-5 tie ball game.
There were more defensive heroics in the top of the sixth. Brown made the play on a deep pop up for the first out. The next batter tried to make second on an overthrow at first base. Right fielder Tim Hyne collected the miscue and fired to Salvione, who made the throw to Brown in time to make a tag for the second out of the inning. Following a double and a base hit, Hyne flagged down a fly ball hit to deep right field, ending Greshams half of the inning.
Lynch and Hayes both hustled for infield singles with one down in the bottom of the sixth. Devin Poling then plated Lynch with a ground ball to second for the game-winner.
The title game with Gresham was called in the fourth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule. Clackamas took charge in the second inning, rallying around a solo home run by Hyne and run-scoring doubles by Anderson and Brown to build a 5-1 advantage.
Anderson hit a home run in the Barlow game for Clackamas only other roundtripper of the district tournament.
The local all-stars put the title game away in the fourth, when they added six more runs. The game hit the mercy rule with only one out in the inning after Owen Cote lofted a single over the head of Greshams first basemans head, scoring Hyne from second for an 11-1 Clackamas lead. Brown hammered a two-run double and Hyne had a run-scoring double in the big inning.
Members of the standout Clackamas team include: Christopher Lynch (left field), Ethan Anderson (catcher/first base/pitcher), Jackson ONeil (outfield), Owen Cote (third base/pitcher), Colin Grimmer (first base/shortstop/pitcher), J.D. Hayes (outfield), Vinny Salvione (shortstop/pitcher), Jackson Brown (first base/third base/pitcher), Travis Varner (centerfield), Jude Sumner (outfield), Devin Poling (outfield), Peyton Levi (second base) and Timmy Hyne (right field).
Levi and Hyne are from Oregon City. The rest of the players are from Milwaukie and will feed Milwaukie and Rex Putnam high school baseball programs.
Coaching with Noah Salvione were Scott Anderson and Troy Grimmer. Mike Levi was manager.
The team now heads for Bend, where they will join eight other district champions in the Little League 9-10 State Championship Tournament, which begins on July 18.