Milton-Freewater Blazers exit state tournament early

The Blazers leave the Oregon Babe Ruth tourney with a Friday loss to Goldendale.

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BEAVERTON, Ore. - The Milton-Freewater Blazers' first trip to the Oregon State Senior Babe Ruth Tournament ended in short order here Thursday and Friday. The Blazers dropped games to East Metro, 4-2, and Goldendale, 15-5, en route to a disappointing early tourney exit.

The losses end M-F's Senior Babe Ruth season.

East Metro 4, M-F 2

Milton-Freewater fell to East Metro of Portland in the first game of the Oregon State Senior Babe Ruth Tournament Thursday night.

Passed balls hurt the Blazers in the first inning Thursday, helping East Metro put three runs on the scoreboard quickly. Blazers pitcher Randy Romero struck out the first batter he faced, but a passed ball put him on first. The next East Metro batter put the ball over the fence for an early 2-0 lead.

The next East Metro batter doubled to right field, and he eventually scored on passed balls.

"Those couple of passed balls were important," Blazers coach Mike Garcia said. "I think my kids were a little bit nervous, and that led to some uncharacteristic errors. That happens when they've never been at the state level."

The Blazers answered with their two runs in the top of the second inning. Jake Knight and Jacob Partney walked, and Dillon Garcia's fielder's choice advanced them. Alex Ortiz's single scored Knight, and Partney later scored on a passed ball.

Goldendale 15, M-F 5

Three costly errors and two two-out long balls proved too much for Milton-Freewater in a Friday loser-out loss to Goldendale.

Blake Lesko powered Goldendale to an early five-run lead a half-inning in, thanks to his full-count, two-out grand slam home run to left field in the first.

Milton-Freewater battled back with three runs in the bottom of the first, and another two in the bottom of the second.

The Blazers trailed just 6-5 going into fifth-the inning the bottom fell out.

Goldendale scored six times in the top of the fifth to put the game nearly out of reach, 12-5. Two M-F errors proved crucial in the decisive six-run frame.

"I told the guys all season long that if you commit errors, they're going to burn you," Garcia said. "Those critical errors in the late innings proved the difference."

Goldendale put the game on ice in the sixth via another two-out longball-this time the 3-run sort off the bat of Lucas Denny.

"Denny shouldn't have been up," Garcia said. "The play before we could have gotten out of the inning, but we had an infield error."

Milton-Freewater failed to score off Goldendale starter Trevor Fields after the second inning. Fields surrendered five runs on eight hits in a mercy-shortened six-inning complete game performance.

A trio of Blazers pitchers accounted for Goldendales earned runs. Starter Gabe Quaempts' five runs in the first were all earned. Patrick Sheets came on to pitch the second, third, fourth innings and the beginning of the six-run fifth. Randy Romero finished the rout for M-F.

After the game, Garcia gathered his dejected squad to highlight the successes of the season.

"The guys were upset. You want to perform well at the state level, not go two games and then you're done," he said. "I gathered them together and pointed out the things we'd accomplished this summer. I wanted them to know they were a part of something important for Milton-Freewater.

"I reminded them that it's the first time Milton-Freewater has had a 16-18 year old team. We played a 42-game season. We took on squads (from larger areas) like Walla Walla and Hanford and won. That's quite an accomplishment.

"We were one of the youngest teams in the tourney. We're only losing two guys from this squad, and after next year only two more. That's a huge bright spot for our future," he said.

The Blazers who have no team bus, rely on parents and coaches to transport players to games. Garcia singled out Patrick Sheets' mother Chris for special praise in this area. Chris Sheets and her van transported players to all 42 Blazers' games this season.

Thursday's Game

M-F Blazers 020 000 0 - 2 5 3

East Metro 300 010 x - 4 3 1

Romero and McCoy, Salazar (6). Burnett and Entrikin.

HR - EM: Entrikin.

Hits - M-F: Salazar, Knight 2, Partney, Garcia. East Metro: Entrikin, Weldenon, Fulsher.

Friday's Game

Goldendale 510 063 - 15 14 0

M-F Blazers 320 000 - 5 8 3

Fields and Denny; Quaempts, Sheets (2), Romero (5) and McCoy, Salazar (5).

HR - Gold: Lesko, Denny.

Hits - Gold: Moss 3, Herin 2, Denny 2, Trunkey 2, Lindhe, Lesko 2, Enstid, Gaston; M-F: Salazar 2, Sheets, Romero, Cuellar 2, Knight, Garcia.

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